If you follow the cryptospace, you definitely know about Ethereum. Second in terms of market cap (close to $26 billion at the time of writing this article), many see Ethereum as Bitcoin’s little brother. Come to think of it, they may fail to realize that Ethereum has already started to take its own path, bringing it to a journey far different and far more exciting from the one Bitcoin is currently having – which may end up as a sleeping giant. But what you may not know is the story of the creation of the Ethereum network as well as its creator, Vitalik Buterin, probably the most well-known person in the cryptospace, excluding Satoshi Nakamoto – the creator or group of people behind Bitcoin.
A GIFTED MIND
Born in Russia, on January 31, 1994, Vitalik actually grew up in Canada since the age of six, when his parents decided to emigrate in Canada, searching for better job opportunities. As a child, Vitalik showed some early signs of high aptitudes and was transferred to a class dedicated to “gifted minds”. Maths felt natural to the young man that many saw as a kind of young genius.
But as a teenager, Vitalik spent most of his time on his computer, playing video games and such as World of Warcraft, until he was utterly disappointed with an update, realizing that centralized networks could be quite frustrating.
IT ALWAYS STARTS WITH BITCOIN
In an interview with Business Insider, Vitalik shared some details on how he joined the cryptocurrency world as well as why he went on to create Ethereum. “I first got into the crypto space (…) around 2011. I heard about Bitcoin in a couple of places [and] I thought that’s something really interesting.” But soon after, Vitalik realized that the power of the blockchain did not end with Bitcoin. “I started to realize that there were a lot more interesting things that you could do with blockchain than a single peer-to-peer currency. And this was something a lot of other people were starting to recognize at the same time. And I came up with the idea behind Ethereum, this idea that blockchain was a built-in programming language as kind of what I thought was the simplest and kind of most logical way to actually build a platform that can be used for many more kinds of applications.”
A NEW NETWORK
When asked about the reason to create a new network instead of using Bitcoin, Vitalik explained the difference with a simple analogy. “Think of the difference between something like a pocket calculator and a smartphone, where a pocket calculator does one thing and it does one thing well, but really people want to do all of these other things. And if you have a smartphone then on the smartphone you have a pocket calculator as an app, you have playing music as an app, you have a web browser as an app and pretty much everything else. So basically taking that same kind of idea of increasing the power of the system by making it more general purpose and applying it to blockchains.”
So Vitalik Buterin looked for a name and stumbled upon Ethereum by browsing some Wikipedia articles about elements and science fiction. “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 [it] sounded nice and it had the word 'ether', referring to the hypothetical invisible medium that permeates the universe and allows light to travel."
If you have read the famous book “Think and Grow Rich”, by Napoleon Hill, you’ll instantly understand the connection with the Ether. In this book released in 1937, Hill keep referring to the Ether, which was known at the time to be this invisible medium that bounded the Universe together. It was basically the Force from Star Wars and was completely wrong (!), but more than 70 years later, we can say that today, money is starting to flow through the Ether. It might not be light, but that’s a nice comeback.
When asked if his work could be so disruptive that it could destroy many jobs, Vitalik simply answered “Destroyer of jobs, creator of better one?”. In a world that keeps changing and evolving, we can only agree with him. Today more than ever, individuals need to evolve or fear becoming irrelevant. This was true millenniums before and still resonates today. In our view, the evolution of the species first coined by Darwin is no different than the continuous improvement of any process. The principle still prevails. Not only Vitalik understands that, but the Ethereum community is working hard on transforming its network from a Proof of Work (POW) to Proof of Stake (POS).
This is such a gigantic task that we’ll publish a separate article on this process. This small article marks the beginning of our extensive coverage on the Ethereum platform, as we expect the journey to be quite exciting, to say the least.