A gentleman's guide to Ethereum


What is Ethereum?

Ethereum is a big network of computers connected over the internet, each one storing a copy of a database, and was originally conceived by Russian developer Vitalik Buterin, 23. That database is a ledger, or a record of a series of transactions that have taken place between different accounts. In other words, it's a giant set of accounts and a record of the transactions between them which is open for anyone to inspect. This ledger, in cryptocurrency parlance, is known as a blockchain, because transactions are grouped into blocks, and blocks are chained together one after another to form the ledger.


What is Ether?

The currency in use on the Ethereum network is called Ether.


How does Ethereum work?

The computers on the Ethereum network aren’t special in any way. They can be laptops, Raspberry Pis, servers, desktop computers and more - essentially any kind of typical computer can become a part of the Ethereum network. Computers that join cryptocurrency networks like Ethereum are usually known as nodes.


Each node has a copy of the blockchain, and because it's stored on so many computers that means taking down the network is extremely difficult to achieve. If there’s no single entity to take down, how do you "stop" Ethereum? You can’t - not easily anyway, short of turning off the internet (and good luck with that). It’s similar to the principles that other technologies like bittorrent and other peer-to-peer services are built on - there’s enough copies of the data around that stopping the existence or spread of it is extremely difficult to the point where it’s realistically impossible.