Ethereum is a digital platform which allows people to build a range of decentralised applications.
These applications can include security programs, voting systems and methods of payment. Like bitcoin, ethereum operates outside the mandate of central authorities such as banks and governments.
The idea behind ethereum was created by Vitalik Buterin. He launched the first version of the platform in 2015, with the help of several co-founders. Since then it has grown rapidly in popularity and has helped prompt an increase of new rivals to bitcoin.
>Ethereum works as an open software platform functioning on blockchain technology. This blockchain is hosted on many computers around the world, making it decentralised. Each computer has a copy of the blockchain, and there has to be widespread agreement before any changes can be implemented to the network.
The ethereum blockchain is similar to bitcoin’s in that it is a record of the transaction history. However, the ethereum network also allows developers to build and deploy decentralised applications (‘dapps’). These are also stored on the blockchain along with records of transactions.
Dapps are open-source software that use the blockchain technology. Unlike traditional apps, they don’t need a middleman to function. As they are still a relatively new concept, it is difficult to pinpoint an exact definition of them. However, noticeable common features include the fact that they are open source (governed by autonomy) and decentralised.
Groups of smart contracts are used to create dapps. Smart contracts are scripts of code which can facilitate the exchange of money, shares, content, or anything of value. Smart contracts are formed using the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM). Once a smart contract is running on the blockchain, it acts like a self-operating computer program. They run as programmed, without censorship, downtime or influence from a third party.