An anonymous developer (or group developers) came up with a new way to send value over the internet in 2008, and that innovation is what is now globally known as bitcoin. Four years after that, a 19-year-old created a new platform based off of this innovation to change the internet entirely.
Vitalik Buterin, a Russian-Canadian programmer, first became interested in bitcoin in 2011.
The same year, he co-founded the online news website Bitcoin Magazine, publishing tons of articles on the digital currency world. He then proceeds to code for the privacy-minded Dark Wallet and the marketplace Egora.
In 2013, Buterin released a white paper illustrating an alternative platform designed for any decentralized application developers would want to build. He called the system Ethereum.
Ethereum simplifies the process of creating smart contracts, self-enforcing code that developers can employ for a series of applications.
After the unveiling of Buterin’s ethereum white paper, some other developers joined the ranks of ethereum founders.
Dr. Gavin Wood, a co-founder wrote the “technical bible” – the ethereum yellow paper that outlines the spec for the EVM (Ethereum Virtual Machine) that handles the state of the ledger and runs smart contracts.
Co-founder Joseph Lubin went on to found ConsenSys, a Brooklyn-based startup that pivots on developing decentralized apps.
To get the project up and running, Buterin and the other founders launched a crowdfunding campaign in July 2014 where people bought ether or the ethereum tokens that serve as shares in the project.
The brilliant minds who created ethereum were able to raise 18 million dollars, which was at that time the most successful crowdsale to date. It took a whole year afterward, but the first live release, dubbed ‘Frontier,’ launched on July 30th, 2015. It wasn’t a platform pleasing to the sight, but the command line interface gave developers a platform for designing their decentralized applications.
The smart contract platform kicked off, growing into today’s pool of hundreds of developers and even attracting the interests of tech giants all over the world.
The Ethereum Enterprise Alliance announced 86 new partners, over the last year, including Intel, Microsoft, and BP. Likewise, series of new blockchain projects leveraging the Ethereum blockchain have garnered attention and capital.
In early 2017, Ethereum broke into the limelight when the price of Ether surged by 1000 percent in just a couple of months. This invariably motivated a similar rise in the price of alternative blockchain tokens, called “altcoins.” A slew of new investors also hopped in on the Ethereum movement as it got coverage by top media outlets like CNBC, Reuters, Quartz, and the likes.
Developers, as well as investors, are anticipating the release of the next update to the Ethereum network. The update, named Metropolis, is aimed at abstracting a lot of functions and pave the way for user-friendly app designs.
The capitals from the system’s initial 18 million dollars crowdsale and project development are now managed by the Ethereum Foundation, a Switzerland-based non-profit organization.