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Bitcoin is the face of cryptocurrency ecosystem, just like xerox is for photocopy machine. But, the second only to Bitcoin as cryptocurrency coin, both in reach, size and acceptance is Ethereum.
The interesting thing is, Ethereum is not just another crypto coin. It’s a whole project in itself with a focus on making autonomy a reality.
It’s an effort to code, run, and execute smart contracts and Decentralised Apps (also called Distributed Centralized Applications) independently without human interaction. The whole purpose of this type of cryptocurrency is to build whole decentralized apps (dApps) with them. One such example is, trading real-world commodities using these apps.
In the case of Ethereum, its inbuilt programming language is Solidity. It allows writing smart contracts and DApps. Once these contracts and DApps are there, the cryptocurrency asset (Ether) helps in executing these apps and contracts.
Here is a nice video by CNBC explaining difference between Bitcoin & Ethereum:
Short History of Ethereum
A Russian programmer Vitalik Buterin created Ethereum in late 2013. Vitalik formally announced Ethereum in January 2014 at The North American Bitcoin Conference in Miami, USA.
With the joining of Dr. Gavin Wood as co-founder, in July 2014 the Ethereum Foundation bootstrapped the development of Ethereum software and raised $18 million in presale of Ether tokens.
Current Ethereum Team
Vitalik Buterin (CEO) – Through Bitcoin in 2011, Vitalik discovered cryptocurrencies and blockchain technologies. He founded Bitcoin Magzine in 2012 out of this curiosity to understand Bitcoin. After getting the Theil Fellowship in 2014, he dropped out of the University of Waterloo to work on Ethereum full-time. In 2013, he invented Ethereum.