Ethereum (ETH) is an open-source distributed blockchain that has smart contract functionality. It operates as a decentralized virtual machine which can execute scripts and be used to transfer ether between different nodes. Although ether is the name of the token which is sent on the Ethereum blockchain, many people also refer to it as Ethereum. As a consequence, ether and Ethereum are often used interchangeably. Ethereum was developed by Vitalik Buterin and launched using a crowdsale in 2014. This is generally regarded as having been the first cryptocurrency ICO (Initial Coin Offering) even though this term wasn’t in use at the time. Since its launch, Ethereum has grown to become the second largest blockchain after Bitcoin in terms of market cap and has spawned an entire market of tokens which can be transacted on the Ethereum blockchain like ether. Although ether can be used as a currency, it is more commonly used to execute smart contracts.

No. According to the terms agreed by all parties on the 2014 presale, issuance of ether is capped at 18 million ether per year (this number equals 25% of the initial supply). This means that while the absolute issuance is fixed, the relative inflation is decreased every year. In theory, if this issuance was kept indefinitely then at some point the rate of new tokens created every year would reach the average amount lost yearly (by misuse, accidental key lost, the death of holders etc) and there would reach an equilibrium.
At the time when this guide was written, January 2014, the price of one bitcoin stood at $913, down slightly after reaching an all-time high of over $1,200 earlier in December. The new cryptocurrency came a long way from trading below $4 just two years ago. Major online and offline retailers are starting to add the new currency as a payment method. But what exactly is bitcoin?
For years, few residents really grasped how appealing their region was to miners, who mainly did their esoteric calculations quietly tucked away in warehouses and basements. But those days are gone. Over the past two years, and especially during 2017, when the price of a single bitcoin jumped from $1,000 to more than $19,000, the region has taken on the vibe of a boomtown. Across the three rural counties of the Mid-Columbia Basin—Chelan, Douglas and Grant—orchards and farm fields now share the rolling landscape with mines of every size, from industrial-scale facilities to repurposed warehouses to cargo containers and even backyard sheds. Outsiders are so eager to turn the basin’s power into cryptocurrency that this winter, several would-be miners from Asia flew their private jet into the local airport, took a rental car to one of the local dams, and, according to a utility official, politely informed staff at the dam visitors center, “We want to see the dam master because we want to buy some electricity.”
Smart contract is just a phrase used to describe 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 conditions are met. Because smart contracts run on the blockchain, they run exactly as programmed without any possibility of censorship, downtime, fraud or third party interference.

Even in the recent price crash, the miners have maintained their upbeat attitude, in part because they’ve died this death a few times before. In February, a day after bitcoin’s price dipped below $6,000, I checked in with Carlson to see how he was dealing with the huge sell-off. In a series of long texts, he expressed only optimism. The market correction, he argued, had been inevitable, given the rapid price increase. He noted that mining costs in the basin remain so low—still just a little above $2,000 per coin—that prices have a way to fall before bitcoin stops being worth mining there. Carlson is, he told me, “100 percent confident” the price will surpass the $20,000 level we saw before Christmas. “The question, as always, is how long will it take.”

The Ethereum Platform rests on open-source software, and there is a risk that the Ethereum Stiftung or the Ethereum Team, or other third parties not directly affiliated with the Stiftung Ethereum, may introduce weaknesses or bugs into the core infrastructural elements of the Ethereum Platform causing the system to lose ETH stored in one or more User accounts or other accounts or lose sums of other valued tokens issued on the Ethereum Platform.