|Original author(s)||Vitalik Buterin, Gavin Wood|
|Developer(s)||Gavin Wood, Jeffrey Wilcke, heikoheiko, et al|
|Operating system||Linux, POSIX, Windows, OS X|
|License||GPL3, MIT, LGPL, et al|
Ethereum is a decentralized Web 3.0 publishing platform featuring stateful user-created digital contracts and a Turing-complete contract programming language. Ethereum uses its underlying network unit, Ether, as payment to execute Ethereum contracts as a workaround to the Halting Problem. In this respect, Ethereum is unlike most cryptocurrencies, as it is not solely a network for transacting monetary value, rather, it is a network for powering Ethereum-based contracts. These open-ended contracts can be used to securely execute a wide variety of services including: voting systems, domain name registries, financial exchanges, crowdfunding platforms, company governance, self-enforcing contracts and agreements, intellectual property, smart property, and distributed autonomous organizations. The platform was initially described by Vitalik Buterin in late 2013, formally described by Gavin Wood in early 2014 in the so-called Yellow Paper and will be released in early 2015. It is among a group of "next generation" (or "Bitcoin 2.0") platforms.
The stated purpose of the Ethereum project is to "decentralize the web" by introducing four components as part of its Web 3.0 roadmap: static content publication, dynamic messages, trustless transactions and an integrated user-interface. These are each designed to replace some aspect of the Web experience we currently take for granted, but to do so in a fully decentralised and pseudonymous manner.
The basic unit of the internal currency is called ether, which is divided into smaller units of currency called finney, szabo, shannon, babbage, lovelace, and wei. Each larger unit is equal to 1000 of the next lower unit, so 1000 finney is 1 ether, 1000 szabo is 1 finney, and so on.
The Development of Ethereum began in December 2013, with the first Go and C++ proof of concept builds (PoC1) being released in early February 2014. Since then, several further PoC builds have been released, with PoC4 introducing the smart contract to higher level languages - Serpent (Python inspired), Mutan (Go inspired) and LLL (Lisp inspired).
In order to finance further development, Ethereum distributed the initial allocation of its internal network unit, ether, via a public sale. The sale lasted for 42 days, and resulted in the Ethereum project receiving 31,591 BTC of revenue.
PoC5, was released via GitHub on July 22, 2014 to coincide with the launch of the Ether pre sale, and included many changes from previous PoCs. It was the first time that two clients, one written in C++ and one in Go, perfectly inter-operated with each other whilst processing on the same blockchain. In August 2014, the Python client was also added to the list, and now a Java version is close to completion.
Currently, Ethereum is in the process of using an initial quantity of funds (generated through the Ether Sale) that have already been withdrawn from the Ethereum exodus address to expand its operations. Eth Dev (the entity responsible for delivering Ethereum 1.0) development teams based in Berlin, Amsterdam and London are focusing on the implementation and completion of PoC8, the next version in the series. PoC8 will see the inception of both an internal and a massive external security audit with established software security firms, academics, blockchain research firms and companies interested in utilising Ethereum all taking part. A bug bounty program aimed at the community has also been implemented.
Primavera De Filippi, a postdoctoral researcher at the CERSA / CNRS / Panthéon-Assas University, spoke on the legal implications of Ethereum at Harvard on 15 April 2014. University of Toronto doctoral student Quinn DuPont discusses the shift from Bitcoin to Ethereum (as part of a broader shift to ubiquitous cryptography) in a public lecture at Dalhousie University on October 2, 2014. Steve Randy Waldman described it as a tool that can be used for 'engineering distributed economic security'.
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