Firstly, ethereum is a form of cryptocurrency and the latter refers to a digital element designed as a medium of exchange in which individual coin ownership records are stored in a computerised database using strong cryptography and encryption to store transaction record entries to confirm the transfer of coin ownership. It does not appear in “physical” currency like money and it is not issued by a central authority. Some cryptocurrencies do not use centralised digital currency or central banking systems. Other forms of cryptocurrency includes litecoin, ripple, bitcoin, Zcash.
Ethereum refers to a public, blockchain-based distributed computing platform and operating system featuring smart scripting functionality. Ether is the cryptocurrency generated by the Ethereum platform as a reward to mining nodes for computations performed and is the only currency accepted in the payment of transaction fees. Ethereum supplies a decentralized virtual machine, the Ethereum Virtual Machine, which can execute scripts using an international network of public nodes. The virtual machine’s instruction set, in contrast to others like Bitcoin Script, is Turing-complete.
Ethereum was proposed in late 2013 by Vitalik Buterin, a cryptocurrency researcher and programmer. Vitalik Buterin picked the name Ethereum after browsing Wikipedia articles about elements and science fiction, when he found the name, noting, “I immediately realized that I liked it better than all of the other alternatives that I had seen; I suppose it was the fact that sounded nice and it had the word ‘ether’, referring to the hypothetical invisible medium that permeates the universe and allows light to travel”.
Ethereum was initially described in a white paper by Vitalik Buterin, co-founder of Bitcoin Magazine, in late 2013 with a goal of building decentralized applications. Buterin had argued that Bitcoin needed a scripting language for application development. Failing to gain agreement, he proposed the development of a new platform with a more general scripting language. Ethereum has an unusually long list of founders. Anthony Di Iorio wrote “Ethereum was founded by Vitalik Buterin, Myself, Charles Hoskinson, Mihai Alisie, & Amir Chetrit (the initial 5) in December 2013. Joseph Lubin, Gavin Wood, & Jeffrey Wilke were added in early 2014 as founders“.
Formal development of the Ethereum software project began in early 2014 through a Swiss company, Ethereum Switzerland GmbH. While there was early praise for the technical innovations of Ethereum, questions were also raised about its security and scalability. In 2019, an Ethereum foundation employee named Virgil Griffith was arrested by the US government for presenting at a blockchain conference in North Korea.