Ethereum describes itself as “a decentralized platform that runs smart contracts: applications that run exactly as programmed without any possibility of downtime, censorship, fraud or third-party interference.”
The term “smart contract” refers to computer code that can facilitate the exchange of money, content, property, shares, or anything of value. When running on the blockchain a smart contract becomes like a self-operating computer program that automatically executes when specific, defined conditions are met.
Ethereum was proposed in late 2013 by Vitalik Buterin, a cryptocurrency researcher and programmer and launched in 2015.
The platform is also the basis for its own virtual currency, Ether.
Ethereum is not just a platform. It’s also a programming language, helping developers to build and publish distributed applications.
As an example for comparison and contrast, Bitcoin is also a distributed public blockchain network. Although there are important technical differences between Bitcoin and Ethereum, Bitcoin solely exists to offer one famous application of blockchain technology: a peer to peer electronic cash system that enables and tracks online Bitcoin payments.
Conversely, the Ethereum blockchain focuses on running the programming code of any decentralized application.
In fact, Ethereum is also being used as a platform to launch other cryptocurrencies
In the Ethereum blockchain, instead of mining for bitcoin, miners work to earn Ether, a type of crypto token that fuels the network. Beyond a tradeable cryptocurrency, Ether is also used by application developers to pay for transaction fees and services on the Ethereum network.
There is a second type of token that is used to pay miners fees for including transactions in their block, it is called gas, and every smart contract execution requires a certain amount of gas to be sent along with it to entice miners to put it in the blockchain.
Visit the following link to see what types of Dapps are being built on Ethereum.