Ethereum is a very broad programming platform where a software developer can build games, financial applications, gambling applications, utility and logistics software, social networks, and pretty much everything we already use today. It was conceived of by programmers advocating the use of a decentralized and distributed network as a tool for ensuring that no company or state organization could abuse its power over others.
Many call Ethereum the next step to a "Web3," a more highly interlinked and connected internet. What makes it different from today’s internet? Today, assorted companies, governments, and individuals all own various constituent parts of the internet, the machinery that keeps it running, and the data that lives on it. By contrast, Ethereum is a decentralized blockchain system, which means there is no central authority holding all the information used to create applications. Imagine a network of computers linked together throughout the globe: these computers verify each other’s work, anyone can run programs on them, and users can pay for only what they wish to use. This is how the Ethereum platform works.
Under the previous system, if you were to build a social network where the information is stored on one server, under one authority, then a central authority owns your information and may distribute or manipulate it however it pleases.
Ethereum was created with the intent for people to have the ability to build programs that have no middle man and no central server to house information, making them less vulnerable to abuses by individuals, agencies, or corporations. Without a central server, there is no central authority that can change or shut down these programs without the entire community knowing. If you upload data or provide identifying information, no one exerts control over it and no one owns it but you.
Ethereum was developed in 2014 by a nonprofit organization led by Vitalik Buterin, a programmer involved with Bitcoin, and Mihai Alisie, Anthony Di Iorio, and Charles Hoskinson. Every day individuals across the globe are continuously contributing to the technology to help grow, facilitate, and enhance this groundbreaking platform.
One common misunderstanding is that Ethereum is a currency. It is not; Ether is the currency of the Ethereum ecosystem, an ecosystem that supports Dapps, transactions, data and records, and EDCCs. Ether is the gas that makes these tools go. To learn more about Ether, visit our Resources page.