Ethereum is a blockchain platform of the next generation

The validity of each Ether is guaranteed by a blockchain, which is an ever-growing list of records

by Lorenzo Ciotti
Ethereum is a blockchain platform of the next generation
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Ethereum operates using accounts and balances according to so-called state transitions, which are not based on unspent transaction outputs (UTXOs), but on the current states of all accounts, as well as to some additional data.

The information relating to the state is not stored in the blockchain, but is archived in its own Merkle tree, a binary tree in which each node is the father of two children and its hash is recursively given by the concatenation of the hashes of the two associated blocks.

A cryptocurrency wallet stores public and private keys or addresses that can be used to receive or spend Ether. The private keys can be generated using the Bitcoin protocol called BIT32, starting from a sequence of 12 or 18 words which is stored in the Bitcoin wallet, from which the level 0 master private key is obtained and, descending, those of the next levels.

For each private key, the Bitcoin address associated with its level is generated. The platform was first mentioned by Vitalik Buterin in Bitcoin Magazine, which he co-founded with Joseph Lubin, in early 2013. It was subsequently conceptualized in the White Paper by Buterin himself and formalized by Gavin Wood in the so-called Yellow Paper, at the beginning of 2014.

The release of the first live version of the platform took place on July 30, 2015.

Ethereum is part of a group of blockchain platforms of the next generation

As with other cryptocurrencies, the validity of each Ether is guaranteed by a blockchain, which is an ever-growing list of records, called blocks, which are linked together and secured using cryptography.

By definition, the blockchain itself is resistant to data modification. It is an open, distributed accounting ledger that records transactions between two parties in an efficient and permanently verifiable way. Ethereum is a decentralized Web 3.0 platform for peer-to-peer creation and publishing of smart contracts, second in capitalization behind Bitcoin.

Development of Ethereum began in December 2013, and the first versions of the software in the Go language and C++ language were released in early February 2014. Several subsequent versions have been released since then, including the development of three Ethereum languages programming specially created to write smart contracts: the Serpent, the Mutan and LLL.

To fund the development work, Ethereum has launched an Ether pre-sale public offering. The public offering lasted 42 days and totaled 31 591 Bitcoins, equal to approximately 18.4 million US dollars, or 60 102 216 ETH.