Ethereum is a decentralized platform that runs smart contracts: applications that run exactly as programmed without any possibility of fraud or third party interference.
Ethereum is a public blockchain-based distributed computing platform, featuring smart contract (scripting) functionality. It provides a decentralized virtual machine, the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM), which can execute scripts using an international network of public nodes.
Ethereum also provides a cryptocurrency token called “ether”, which can be transferred between accounts and used to compensate participant nodes for computations performed. “Gas”, an internal transaction pricing mechanism, is used to mitigate spam and allocate resources on the network.
Ethereum was proposed in 2013 by Vitalik Buterin, a cryptocurrency researcher and programmer. Development was funded by an online crowdsale that took place between July and August 2014.
The system went live on 30 July 2015, with 72 million coins “premined”. This accounts for about 15% of the total supply in circulation as of September 2018.
In 2016, as Ethereum had grown in popularity, a group of developers wanted to increase the block size limit on the Ethereum blockchain, which would have resulted in shorter transaction times and lower fees. However, another group of developers disagreed with this change and decided to create a new blockchain-based platform called Ethereum Classic, which still uses the original block size limit.
As of September 2018, Ethereum Classic is the fifth largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization.
Ethereum has an active developer community with over 1,000 contributors working on the platform. The core development team is based out of Toronto, Canada.
The Ethereum Foundation, a Swiss non-profit organization, was founded in 2014 to promote and support Ethereum’s development and research. The foundation’s primary goal is to fund projects that will improve the Ethereum protocol and help scale the platform to handle increasing demand.
In March 2016, Microsoft and ConsenSys announced EthExcel, an Excel add-in that allows users to create and interact with smart contracts on the Ethereum blockchain. EthExcel is intended to make it easier for non-technical users to work with smart contracts.
The Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA) is a consortium of businesses from various industries that are working together to develop enterprise-grade applications on the Ethereum blockchain. The EEA was founded in February 2017 with 30 founding members, including Intel, JPMorgan Chase, Microsoft, and Santander.
As of September 2018, there are over 500 members in the consortium. .
The EEA’s goal is to build standards and tools that will make it easier for enterprises to use Ethereum’s public blockchain or set up their own private blockchain using Ethereum’s technology. One of the first projects undertaken by the EEA is developing a standard specification for enterprise Ethereum clients.
This will help businesses choose the right client for their needs and ensure compatibility between different clients.
In August 2017, JPMorgan Chase announced Quorum, an open-source permissioned version of Ethereum developed by JPMorgan’s Blockchain Center of Excellence. Quorum is designed for use by enterprises such as banks and other financial institutions that need high levels of security and privacy for their transactions.
JPMorgan Chase has also been working on developing its own digital currency called JPM Coin, which is based on Quorum. JPM Coin will be used for instant settlement of payments between institutional clients using JPMorgan’s blockchain platform.
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