Ethereum is a decentralized platform that runs smart contracts: applications that run exactly as programmed without any possibility of downtime, censorship, fraud or third-party interference. These apps run on a custom built blockchain, an enormously powerful shared global infrastructure that can move value around and represent the ownership of property.
This enables developers to create markets, store registries of debts or promises, move funds in accordance with instructions given long in the past (like a will or a futures contract) and many other things that have not been invented yet, all without a middleman or counterparty risk.
The project was bootstrapped via an ether presale in August 2014 by fans all around the world. It is developed by the Ethereum Foundation, a Swiss non-profit, with contributions from great minds across the globe.
On the Ethereum platform, running a program costs a small fee in the form of “gas“, which incentivizes miners to include the transaction in the next block. This fee varies based on the complexity of the computation, and is paid in ether, the native cryptocurrency of the platform.
One of the most exciting applications of Ethereum is the ability to create and deploy decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs). These are entities that exist on the blockchain and are controlled by smart contracts, rather than traditional legal agreements. This allows for transparent and democratic decision making, as well as the ability to raise and distribute funds without intermediaries.
Another unique aspect of Ethereum is its support for custom tokens. This allows individuals or organizations to create their own digital assets on the blockchain, with customizable properties and use cases. This has sparked a wave of innovation in the realm of fundraising, with many startups using initial coin offerings (ICOs) to raise capital on the Ethereum platform.
Overall, Ethereum is a revolutionary technology that has the potential to disrupt many industries and create new opportunities for innovation and collaboration. Its support for smart contracts and custom tokens make it a versatile platform for a wide range of applications, from financial services to supply chain management. As the technology continues to mature and gain mainstream adoption, the possibilities for Ethereum are truly exciting.