Today, Ethereum is celebrating its fifth birthday (since the mainnet went live on 30 July 2015).
The original Ethereum white paper (titled: “Ethereum White Paper: A next-generation smart contract and decentralized application platform”) was written by Russian-Canadian programmer Vitaly Dmitriyevich Buterin (better known as “Vitalik Buterin”), and published on his blog in December 2013.
Here is how Vitalik described the main objective of Ethereum in the abstract of this paer:
“What Ethereum intends to provide is a blockchain with a built-in fully fledged Turing-complete programming language that can be used to create ‘contracts’ that can be used to encode arbitrary state transition functions, allowing users to create any of the systems described above, as well as many others that we have not yet imagined, simply by writing up the logic in a few lines of code.”
Ethereum got announced by Vitalik on 27 January 2014 on Day 2 of the North American Bitcoin Conference in Miami, Florida.
During his talk, Vitalik said that one of the uses for Ethereum was to create cryptoassets for specialized purposes:
“Let’s not have one currency. Let’s have 1,000s of currencies.”
Around six months later (on 7 June 2014), Ethereum’s eight co-founders―Vitalik Buterin, Anthony Di Iorio, Charles Hoskinson, Mihai Alisie, Amir Chetrit, Joseph Lubin, Gavin Wood, and Jeffrey Wilke―met in a rented house in Zug, Switzerland (a town that has been given the nickname “Crypto Valley”). At this meeting, Vitalik proposed that the Ethereum project should proceed as a non-profit.
Ethereum’s Development was funded via an initial coin offering (ICO) during July–August 2014, with the participants paying for the Ether (ETH) token with Bitcoin (BTC). This ICO raised 3,700 BTC in its first 12 hours, and in total, $18 million was raised.
Ethereum Foundation’s last proof-of-concept prototype, which was codenamed “Frontier”, went live on 30 July 2015.
Although Frontier was becoming publicly available on this date, it only offered a “command line” user interface, and its purpose was to allow developers to use it in a live testing environment (even though the platform was dealing with real funds).
Release co-ordinator Vinay Gupta told Coindesk back then:
“Don’t put a lot of value at risk unless you really, really are sure you know what you are doing, and you’re confident about your risk assessment of the network.”
On Tuesday, crypto journalist and podcaster Laura Shin released episode #183 of her “Unchained” podcast; this featured an interview with Vitalik.
The first question that Shin asked Vitalik was what were his thoughts and feelings about Ethereum’s fifth anniversary.
“Ethereum’s definitely come a long way in the last five years, and it’s definitely been really striking to just see the change… and even just see how more and more of the changes are just outside of mine and even outside of the Ethereum Foundation control.”
Here is how Austrian blockchain startup Bitfly congratulated Ethereum on its fifth birthday:
If you are interested in learning more about the history of Ethereum, you could do a lot worse than checking out journalist Camila Russo’s new book “The Infinite Machine: How an Army of Crypto-hackers Is Building the Next Internet with Ethereum”, which was released by HarperCollins on July 14.