When, in 2008, Satoshi Nakamoto introduced the world to bitcoin, the world’s first cryptocurrency, a growing number of IT and financial experts responded with interest and enthusiasm. Over time, the crypto community has had their own forums, advocates, and outlets that covered news and updates.
One of the first and most influential media covering Bitcoin and crypto news was Bitcoin Magazine. One of the post’s co-founders was a Canadian teenager and crypto enthusiast – you guessed it, Vitalik Buterin.
Ethereum co-founder: pre-Ethereum era
Before designing the world’s largest blockchain network, Buterin already had a strong presence in the community. He has worked as a writer for both Bitcoin Magazine and Ledger: a blockchain-themed science journal.
Before launching Ethereum, Buterin was supposed to work on Ripple with Jed McCaleb, but the partnership fell through due to relocation difficulties.
Birth of Ethereum: the 2013 white paper
In 2013, Buterin published a white paper outlining the concept of Ethereum, a blockchain network that would allow its users to create smart contracts and decentralized applications.
Buterin realized the challenges of blockchain development, especially the fact that programmers had to create custom blockchain networks to deploy platforms. Ethereum had to change that by creating a protocol that would make it easier to build dApps – decentralized applications.
A screenshot of the old Ethereum website: Courtesy of Internet Archives
The white paper covers the concept of smart contracts, EVM, gas and mining. In addition, it details the key values of Ethereum’s design – simplicity, universality, modularity, non-discrimination and agility.
To take a step back in time, you can read the original white paper on the network site.
2014: Yellow book and publication of tokens
The original white paper provided a high-level description of the network, its applications, and the development team’s plans for scalability.
When the white paper came out, people wanted to learn more about the algorithm and how it works internally. A technical review of Ethereum was needed both for the development team who would cement their vision and differentiate themselves from other crypto projects and the community, eager to uncover the intricacies of the network.
In 2014, Garry Wood published the Ethereum yellow paper which delves deeper into the technology supporting the network. You can check it out here and read a full rundown in this in seven parts.
The Ether Sale
In 2014, the Ethereum Foundation made the first token sale announcement. In one Ethereum blog post, Buterin describes the mechanics of buying Ether and informs the community of other network milestones.
The first ether sale lasted 42 days and bought tokens for BTC.
2016: The DAO attack and the DAO fork
This page in Ethereum’s history is a warning to the rest of the community. In 2016, due to an unsecured DAO smart contract, hackers were able to drain over $ 3.6 million in ETH. As a result, token prices fell. In addition, at the time, DAO held over 15% of the total ether supply.
This reverse call vulnerability attack was an unprecedented event, so the Ethereum community began to search for a viable way to control (or reverse the damage). As a result, a the decision has been made to rewrite history, with a soft fork that moves funds from the old to the new contract.
85% of the community supported the soft fork. 15% of these branched out under the name Ethereum Classic (ETC).
Other important Ethereum forks: Byzantium, Constantinople, Istanbul
The series of forks put in place between 2017 and 2019 made it possible to secure and optimize the network. Here’s a quick summary of what each of those decisions accomplished:
- Mining rewards changed from 5 ETH to 3 ETH
- Difficulty bomb was delayed for a year
- Implementing New Cryptography Methods to Improve Layer 2 Scaling
- Improve gas costs for some EVM calculations
- Ensure that the blockchain does not freeze until the PoS is implemented
- Better resistance to denial of service attacks
- Expanding the range of smart contract functions
- Authorized ZCash and Ethereum to interoperate
2020: The genesis of the beacon chain
The past year has been huge for the Ethereum community. The community has achieved several important milestones, the most important of which has been the deployment of the Beacon Chain December 1.
This event marked the introduction of PoS into Ethereum and is the first in a series of network updates known as Ethereum 2.0.
2021: ETH 2.0 Work in progress
At the moment, the Ethereum team is working on two important network updates:
- Altaïr – an update of the Beacon chain which will support synchronization committees and improve the quality of network monitoring (ie inactivity and reduction of penalties).
- London is a long-awaited update that will optimize gas royalties and introduce EIP-1559, a basic royalty system designed to incentivize miners during times of heavy grid congestion.
The history of Ethereum is complex and fascinating, although it seems that the ambition of the future is even more exciting than the legacy of the past.
On a smaller but equally important scale, the history of the network is written era by era, with each transaction and each validator joining the network.
To keep track of network activity, the number of validators available, as well as the epoch and block summary, take a look at the new one. ETH Explorer which supports the ETH2 network. It is an intuitive tracking tool that helps users monitor the performance of specific validators, tracking blocks, and eras. Additionally, there is a library of educational publications that will keep you up to date with the latest Ethereum updates and staking best practices.