Ethereum is a decentralized blockchain platform that establishes a peer-to-peer network that securely executes and verifies application code, called smart contracts. Smart contracts allow participants to transact with each other without a trusted central authority.
The Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) provides a secure, isolated, and uniform environment for executing smart contracts and enforcing the rules of the Ethereum protocol. Enabled by Ethereum, Web3 has a broad range of use cases, including the creation of DeFi protocols, peer-to-peer marketplaces, non-fungible token (NFT) exchange platforms, decentralized social networks, and decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs).
The Ethereum blockchain was first proposed in 2013 by Vitalik Buterin, and its development was funded through an online crowdsale in July-August 2014. Ethereum was launched on July 30, 2015, with 11.9 million coins sold during the crowdsale, accounting for approximately 13 percent of the circulating supply. Ethereum underwent a hard fork in 2016 that resulted in two separate chains, Ethereum (ETH) and Ethereum Classic (ETC). In 2022, Ethereum transitioned from the energy-intensive Proof of Work (PoW) consensus mechanism to the more secure and energy-efficient Proof of Stake (PoS) mechanism.