Bitcoin’s history is mythical and is still the source of much discussion as the cryptocurrency market enters a more mature stage of its life. But Ethereum, the other major cryptocurrency with a long and storied history, has its own charms in its story.
Ethereum, as it is known, was started by Vitalik Buterin - though many others were also founders, such as Gavin Wood, who wrote the Ethereum Yellow Paper. Vitalik was writing for Bitcoin Magazine and also a programmer and crypto researcher. He came up with the idea for Ethereum in 2013 and published the Ethereum white paper - which described smart contracts, a development that is now ubiquitous in the cryptocurrency space ;)
Once more people started to get on board, and funding was needed to build an ecosystem where Ethereum could actually function as (or work towards functioning as) a decentralized computer, the team decided to conduct a presale to fund their development and growth activities. And thus the Ethereum Foundation was born. The Ethereum Foundation was something like the legal entity representing the project.
The project raised $18.5 million - a really small amount that pales in comparison to today’s figures - but with that it was enough for the project to get started big time. Ethereum has always put an emphasis on scalability, security and general development and that mindset was in place since its launch in July 2015. A lot of testing was conducted beforehand, and Vitalik was keen on developers testing the network and trying to push it to its limit, but the launch was successful :)
Then came the first major upgrade and hard fork to Ethereum - Homestead. It was fully planned and brought several major changes (Ethereum Improvement Proposals or EIPs) to the network, including increasing the gas cost for transactions and some technical improvements related to mining and smart contracts.
A Bit of Trouble and Looking to the Future
Things did not always go well though - anyone remember the DAO fork? Well, I’ll remind you. In 2016, the Decentralized Autonomous Foundation (DAO) raised $50 million worth of Ether on the network, but they were attacked by a hacker and had all of the money stolen. This resulted in the infamous split of Ethereum into the Ethereum blockchain and Ethereum Classic (ETC). Those who stuck with the former, including the developers, existed on a blockchain where the money was returned to the DAO. Those who were on the ETC blockchain operated on a blockchain where this money was not returned. The hard fork has not really hurt Ethereum.
But Ethereum has always been in the “development mode” - and following the DAO incident, two major upgrades were released as part of “Metropolis”: Byzantium and Constantinople. This too brought several technical upgrades to performance and security.
And now Ethereum is on the cusp of growing from adolescent to adult, with Ethereum 2.0 scheduled for 2020/2021. This will be the biggest transition yet for Ethereum, as it hopefully brings about the much needed scaling solutions - through sharding and Casper - that most networks are in need of. Although it has been delayed, much to the disappointment of the cryptocommunty, the changes it will bring will have a seismic effect on the network - potentially taking crypto to the mainstream and keeping it there.