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The concept for Ethereum was proposed by a 19-year old named Vitalik Buterin in 2013 as a platform that took the idea of Bitcoins blockchain and extended it to encompass the storage and execution of Turing-complete computer programs. Ethereum has since become thefifth fastestgrowing open-source project on Github with an unusual history and compelling potential.
Buterin worked with prominent contemporary cryptocurrency figures such as Joseph Lubin and Charles Hoskinson on Ethereums early development, and in July 2014, Ethereum underwent a crowdsale that raised $14 million. Ethereum officially went live in July 2015 with its Homestead release, signaling the emergence of the first Turing-complete smart contracts platform.
However, Ethereum quickly ran into trouble as The DAO, an investor-driven community VC fund, washacked for roughly $150 millionin June 2016. In what has become a defining moment for the cryptocurrency industry, two camps emerged from the debacle.
On one side, there was Buterin and the community who wanted to hard fork the protocol to roll back the stolen funds from the hack. On the other, the community proponents of code is law who viewed any hard fork as a violation of Ethereums core principles. The blockchain was eventually forked, with the former camp (i.e., Buterins) becoming Ethereum and the latter becoming Ethereum Classic.
Ethereum is a smart contracts platform where contracts are coded in either the programming language Solidity or the experimental language Vyper. The primary Ethereum client is written in Golang. Contrary to Bitcoin, Ethereum utilizes an account-based model compared to Bitcoins UTXO set due to specificdesign considerations.
Ethereum rapidly arose as the foundation for the ICO craze of 2017, functioning as the standardized infrastructure for the launch of ERC-20 tokens and innumerable projects striving to become the next major success story. Multiple decentralized applications (dapps) presented intriguing case studies into what was possible with unstoppable applications running on the network, but the ICO bubble eventually collapsed, and Ethereums community turned its focus to looming scaling issues.
Currently, a proof-of-work consensus blockchain network like Bitcoin, the debate over Ethereums ability to meet network demands for a new generation of dapps to run on top of it has led to heated debates about the platforms future.
Proposed innovations from Plasma to Dappchains have entered the mix, but the widely accepted roadmap for the legacy smart contracts platform has come to be known as Ethereum 2.0 or Serenity.
Buterin has largely stepped back as the Ethereum development community has flourished. At the beginning of 2019, the concept of open finance (i.e., DeFi) became a prevailing narrative for the platform as projects from MakerDAO to Compound Finance surged in popularity.
However, scaling issues still persist, and Ethereum is currently undergoing its long-awaited transition into a proof-of-stake (PoS) network to meet network demands. As part of the roadmap to Serenity, the ultimate destination of a sharded PoS Ethereum, the community recently moved forward with itsConstantinopleupgrade.
With the code for Ethereum 2.0 set to befinalizedthis summer, Ethereum joins a class of emerging PoS blockchain networks at the convergence of scalability and interoperability. A behemoth in the cryptocurrency community, Ethereums future is sure to play a critical role in the broader ecosystem with powerful externalities on the underlying technologys future direction.
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