Ethereum - ETH
A Next-Generation Smart Contract and Decentralized Application Platform.

About

Ethereum (ETH) is a smart contract platform that enables developers to build decentralized applications (dapps) conceptualized by Vitalik Buterin in 2013. ETH is the native currency for the Ethereum platform and also works as the transaction fees to miners on the Ethereum network.

Ethereum is the pioneer for blockchain based smart contracts. When running on the blockchain a smart contract becomes like a self-operating computer program that automatically executes when specific conditions are met. On the blockchain, smart contracts allow for code to be run exactly as programmed without any possibility of downtime, censorship, fraud or third-party interference. It can facilitate the exchange of money, content, property, shares, or anything of value. The Ethereum network went live on July 30th, 2015 with 72 million Ethereum premined.

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What is a Smart Contract?

A smart contract is a programmable contract that allows two counterparties to set conditions of a transaction without needing to trust another third party for the execution. 

For example, if Alice wants to set up a trust fund to pay Bob $100 at the start of each month for the next 12 months, she can program a smart contract to:

  1. Check the current date 
  2. At the start of each month, send Bob $100 automatically
  3. Repeat until the fund in the smart contract is exhausted

Using a smart contract, Alice has bypassed the need to have a trusted third-party intermediary (lawyers, escrow agents etc) to send the trust fund to Bob and made the process transparent to all involved parties.

Smart contracts work on the “if this, then that” principle. Whenever a certain condition is fulfilled, the smart contract will carry out the operation as programmed.

What are the programming languages that are used to write smart contracts on Ethereum?

There are two popular programming languages that are typically used to write Ethereum smart contracts. The first one is called Solidity which has very close similarities to Javascript and C++. The other language is called Vyper which is relatively new that has very close similarities to Python.

Who created Ethereum?

Unlike bitcoin in which the creator who is known as Satoshi Nakamoto is unknown. The founding team of Ethereum are known individuals which includes Vitalik Buterin, Mihai Alisie, Anthony Di lorio, Charles Hoskinson, Amir Chetrit, Joseph Lubin, Gavin Wood, and Jeffrey Wilke. Not all the founding members are still with the Ethereum Foundation, as some has moved on to work on other projects. For example, Charles Hoskinson has moved on to work on Cardano, while Gavin Wood has moved on to work on Polkadot.

What is Ether?

While Ethereum refers to the blockchain network. The native currency that flows within the Ethereum economy is called Ether (ETH). Ether is typically used to pay for transaction fees called Gas, and it is the base currency of the network.

What is Gas?

On Ethereum, all transactions and smart contract executions require a small fee to be paid. This fee is called Gas. In technical terms, Gas refers to the unit of measure on the amount of computational effort required to execute an operation or a smart contract. The more complex the execution operation is, the more gas is required to fulfill that operation. Gas fees are paid entirely in ETH. 

The price of gas can fluctuate from time to time depending on the network demand. If there are more people interacting on the Ethereum blockchain such as transacting in ETH or executing a smart contract operation, due to the limited amount of computing resources on the network, Gas price can increase. Conversely when the network is under utilized, the market price of gas would decrease.

What options are there to store Ether and ERC-20 tokens?

The 3 most popular Ethereum based wallets are Metamask, MyEtherWallet, and MyCrypto. However there are many other options available as well such as Argent, Trust Wallet, and Coinbase Wallet.

I heard that a new version is launching called Ethereum 2.0. What is that about?

Ethereum 2.0 is an upgrade that aims to solve the blockchain trilemma – security, scalability, and decentralization. In alternative smart contract platforms, they are designed to be highly scalable but compromises on decentralization. Whereas a highly secured and decentralized blockchain network would have the trade off being highly unscalable. Ethereum 2.0 brings a very different flavor of design that aims to addresses those issues by way of using Proof-of-Stake (POS), Beacon Chain, Sharding, and Execution Environment. Due to the complexity of the project, the developement will take place in 3 phases.