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Even though cryptocurrencies are still catching on slowly, they have been around for quite a long time. For more than a decade, these digital currencies have been used for various kinds of financial transactions and are still being used.
There are different types of cryptocurrencies in the blockchain market, all with different values, made by very different firms and run on different frameworks. Typically, they all run on blockchain technology but the two largest assets in the market which are Bitcoin and Ether, run on their own different chains.
However, it’s important to note that just like cryptocurrency is just one use of blockchain technology, Ethereum is more than just a cryptocurrency.
Ethereum is a major distributed and public blockchain network. The Ethereum blockchain allows decentralized applications (dApps) to be built on it and primarily focuses on running code for these apps. The token used within the Ethereum network is known as Ether and its creation process is a bit different from that of Bitcoin.
The Ethereum blockchain is also different because it gives developers the freewill to do pretty much anything they want because even though most blockchains are considerably limited, the Ethereum chain isn’t. This means that developers can go above and beyond, building a gazillion and one apps as they see fit.
Publicly, the Ethereum journey began in November of 2013 when Russian–Canadian writer and programmer, Vitalik Buterin, first published the Ethereum whitepaper. About two months after that, the official development of the network was announced and the initial team included Vitalik Buterin, Charles Hoskinson, Anthony Di Iorio and Mihai Alisie. This began a process of development and also an ICO which ended in August 2014 and successfully raised $18.4 million.
Before Ethereum was developed, there were significant limitations to the usage of blockchain applications. A good example is the Bitcoin blockchain that was initially developed for Bitcoin to strictly be a peer-to-peer cryptocurrency. This was a huge problem for most developers at the time because there was a lot more that they wanted to do. The two options available, starting with the most tedious and less time-effective one was to find a way to develop and expand the Bitcoin network so it could accommodate a lot more. The other option was to create a whole new blockchain that will be a lot less limited than its predecessors. This option was quickly picked up by Vitalik Buterin and the development for Ethereum began.
“I thought [they] weren’t approaching the problem in the right way. I thought they were going after individual applications; they were trying to kind of explicitly support each [use case] in a sort of Swiss Army knife protocol.”
This is a software built on the Ethereum network and which solved a lot of problems. Basically, EVM allows any developer to easily create any run any program they want, without having to worry about the programming language used. The EVM also simplified the process of creating applications and made it even more effective and efficient. So, there was no longer any need for a new blockchain to be built as this solution allowed as many development projects as possible, be built on the same network.
The process of producing Ether is a bit different from how Bitcoin is mined on the Bitcoin blockchain. On the Ethereum blockchain, miners do work to earn Ether instead of exactly mining for it. Ether, serves on its own, as a kind of fuel for the Ethereum network. Ether is also generally what is used by developers who create applications on the network a payment for charges and services.
Apart from Ether, there is another type of token that is used on the Ethereum network. This token is called Gas and it is used as payment for miners. When an Ether transaction is initiated, a gas fee is set along with it which is basically a fee paid to the miners so that they can include that particular transaction on that block, for the blockchain. The higher the gas set for an Ether transaction the faster the transaction is executed and then completed.
One major use of Ethereum is its ability to easily build decentralized applications. Shortened as dApps, these apps all serve different purposes but their decentralized nature means that they are not exactly controlled by any one individual, institution or entity. The decentralised nature of these apps help increase the amount of trust it garners because people know that because they are on the network and are public, they are not easily manipulated.
Another use is the creation of a Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO). These organizations are basically run by a programming code and built on the Ethereum network. Also their decentralized nature means there isn’t any one leader and so no one is in control. DAOs have tokens and these organisations are jointly owned by anyone who purchases these tokens.