Ethereum: The Origins of the World’s Largest Altcoin


Ethereum (ETH) employs blockchain technology to enable users to trade in cryptocurrency and has smart contracts without third-party intervention. This open-source service is available to everyone and is secure from attacks. Moreover, the Ethereum infrastructure helps developers make and test different decentralized applications.

Despite its strides in innovation and growth in market value, ETH has only been in the market for less than six years. In this article, we take a look at the short history of Ethereum.

A Brief History of Ethereum

Who Created Ethereum?

Ethereum’s co-founder, Vitalik Buterin, started the journey to creating Ethereum with a white paper released in 2013. He wrote the white paper with a general scripting language on Ethereum. It contained what he essentially thought Bitcoin could do beyond its financial uses.

Other co-founders are Mihai Alise, Anthony Di Lorio, Amir Chetrit, Charles Hoskinson, Gavin Wood, Jeffrey Wilcke, and Joseph Lubin.

The co-founders started the project in 2014, after the crowdfunding efforts selling Ether to participants that helped them raise $18 million. Their first live release, Frontier, was on July 30th, 2015, a year after their crowdfunding success.

The Four Phases of Ethereum

  • Frontier – 7/30/2015

It followed the previous test version dubbed Olympic (5/9/2015). Olympic involved target testing areas such as transaction activity, mining prowess, virtual machine usage, and general punishment, both of which were smart contract platforms. Those that found issues with the code received prizes, including a 2,500 ETH. After the release of frontier, the developers built distributed applications, and Ether mining officially started.

  • Homestead – 3/14/2016

The enhancement of the platform with Ethereum Improvement Proposals (EIP) commenced, enabling future updates and providing faster transaction speeds. Aside from the first treasury already in use, the Ethereum Foundation (based in Zug, Switzerland) started accepting funding in Ether from other sources.

  • Metropolis – 10/16/2017

Byzantium (10/2017) was the first upgrade in this phase through a hard fork. It made the platform scalable and more secure while enabling faster transaction processing. The mining reward dropped from 5 ETH to 3 ETH. The second part of this phase, The Constantinople upgrade, was released in 2019.

  • Serenity – TBA

In this phase, the project will move to proof of stake (PoS) from proof of work (PoW) using the Casper consensus algorithm. PoS is more secure and has faster transaction processing as compared to PoW.

How Ethereum Differs From Bitcoin

Although they both fundamentally use blockchain technology, the vision for Ethereum, according to its co-founder, Vitalik Buterin was to do more than just finance trading. Apart from trading Ethers, it offers other exchange methods such as Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) and smart contracts.

While BTC is censorship-free and permissionless, ETH has both permissionless and permissioned transactions. Mining ethers is faster thanks to the short block time of 12 seconds compared to Bitcoin’s 10 minutes.


Ethereum was a visionary project that Vitalik Buterin used to show the world that there can be more applications to blockchain technology other than finance. He, alongside his colleagues, pioneered the technology that enables the non-fungible tokens (NFTs) that have revolutionized the art world and collectibles.