Ethereum (ETH) is a cryptocurrency and open source blockchain-based distributed computing platform, featuring smart contract (scripting) functionality. It provides a decentralized virtual machine, the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM), which can execute scripts using an international network of public nodes. Ethereum also provides a cryptocurrency token called “ether”, which can be transferred between accounts and used to compensate participant nodes for computations performed.
Ethereum was initially proposed in late 2013 by Vitalik Buterin, a cryptocurrency researcher and programmer. Development was funded by an online crowdsale that took place between July and August 2014. The system went live on 30 July 2015, with 11.9 million coins “premined” for the crowdsale.
Ethereum is sometimes described as a decentralized world computer, as it allows users to execute scripts on a global distributed network of public nodes. This allows developers to create markets, store registries of debts or promises, move funds in accordance with instructions given long in the past (like a will or a futures contract) and many other things that have not been invented yet, all without a middleman or counterparty risk.
Ethereum’s native cryptocurrency, ether (ETH), is used as a means of payment on the network and is used to compensate participants for services rendered. Ethereum provides its own Turing complete internal code, which means that anything can be calculated with enough computing power and enough time.
Ethereum has attracted a lot of attention in the cryptocurrency space, with many developers and businesses building applications on top of the Ethereum blockchain. Ethereum is also the most actively used blockchain in the world, with more than $2 billion worth of ETH changing hands every day.