Ethereum was founded in 2014 by Vitalik Buterin, a Russian-Canadian programmer. Buterin had previously co-founded Bitcoin Magazine and was involved in the Bitcoin community before proposing Ethereum as a way to address some of Bitcoin’s limitations.
Ethereum’s development was funded by a crowdsale in which participants purchased ether, the cryptocurrency native to the Ethereum blockchain. The sale raised over 18 million dollars, making it the second most successful cryptocurrency crowdsale at the time.
The Ethereum Foundation, a Swiss nonprofit, is the primary organization behind Ethereum’s development and maintenance. The foundation is supported by several for-profit companies, including ConsenSys and BlockApps.
The Ethereum blockchain is similar to the Bitcoin blockchain in that it is a decentralized ledger of all transactions that have taken place on the network. However, Ethereum goes beyond simply tracking cryptocurrency transactions.
It also allows for the execution of so-called “smart contracts.”.
Smart contracts are programs that automatically execute certain actions when certain conditions are met. For example, a smart contract could be used to automatically issue a refund to a customer if a product they ordered never arrives.
Ethereum’s smart contract functionality has led to it being described as a “world computer.” This is because, in theory, any type of computation could be done on the Ethereum network as long as there are enough ether to pay for gas, the currency used to power smart contracts.
The founders of Ethereum are Vitalik Buterin, Gavin Wood, and Joseph Lubin. Buterin is the primary inventor of Ethereum and proposed the project in 2013.
Wood is the co-founder and former Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of the Ethereum Foundation. Lubin is a co-founder of ConsenSys, one of the largest organizations supporting Ethereum development.