Ethereum’s founder: Vitalik Buterin
Vitalik Buterin, Ethereum's founder, was born in Russia in the early 1990s. He only lived in the country for six years before his parents emigrated to Canada in search of better employment opportunities. Buterin was a smart child and was even placed in a class for the gifted while he was in grade three. It is here that his interest in and love for mathematics, programming, and economics were cultivated into the great individual he is today.
After high school, he was admitted to the University of Waterloo, where he took advanced courses focusing on cryptography and even worked as a research assistant for the cryptographer Ian Goldberg.
Vitalik had initially been introduced to Bitcoin by his father in 2011. However, like most teenagers, he did not take much interest in the same, as he thought of governments and corporations to be evil systems that did not favor the ‘small guy.’ Incidentally, like any teenager, he needed to find a way of earning an income and started writing for Bitcoin Weekly the same year. He had learned about the publication through a person that he met on a Bitcoin forum. He was paid 5 Bitcoins, which translated to about $3.5 per article, at the time.
Vitalik’s interest in Bitcoin increased as he continued to learn more about the cryptocurrency. He became so invested that he jumped at the chance to create a new publication for Bitcoin in September 2011. Together with Mihal Alisie, Vitalik Buterin started the Bitcoin Magazine, where he was the lead writer.
The crypto guru continued to publish articles on crypto for the whole of 2012, which led him to believe that he needed to find more information on Bitcoin. In 2013, he went around the world to meet with Bitcoin developers and gain a better understanding of how cryptocurrency worked.
After having talks with most of the Bitcoin developers, he thought that the crypto software was quite limiting in its applicability. Vitalik Buterin then sought to create a better, much superior crypto software that has countless applications in the world of decentralized computing. He created and published the Ethereum White Paper in late 2013.
Ethereum received a lot of praise from crypto enthusiasts all around the world and motivated Vitalik Buterin even more. He finally launched the Ethereum software in 2015.
What is Ethereum?
Ethereum was created to be a blockchain platform that acts as a large computer for supporting decentralized applications. Ethereum’s cryptocurrency, Ether, is just one of the many applications that the platform supports.
Vitalik compares the functional capabilities of Bitcoin and Ethereum and finds that the Bitcoin crypto platform is quite limiting. In his own words, Bitcoin is like a pocket calculator while Ethereum is like a smartphone. He reckons that while the pocket calculator is highly efficient in its specific tasks, a smartphone can do a lot more, with the calculator as just one of the apps that are contained in it. In essence, the crypto genius thought of using the same idea and making blockchains more general purpose.
Other than the Ether cryptocurrency, Ethereum can build and power decentralized applications such as social media platforms, financial tools, and platforms, Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs), among others. This process is made possible through the application of Smart Contracts.
The evolution of Ethereum
Despite having a slow start since its start in 2015, the value of the Ether skyrocketed in 2017, placing it among the top cryptocurrencies in the world. Ever since, the cryptocurrency has received much support, both from investors and other crypto users across the globe. The cryptocurrency has risen to achieve a record high value in April and early May, this year.
Even with its growing influence and popularity, the crypto software is not without its challenges. For instance; just shortly after reaching its record-high value, there was a crypto crash that shocked most investors around the world. The crypto market is a highly volatile market that is determined by the overall usage of computer networks around the globe.
Vitalik Buterin has described cryptocurrencies as bubbles in the past. He further adds that it is “notoriously hard to predict” when these bubbles will pop. He says that this bubble could end the same day or take a couple of months to end. The crypto genius himself lost his newfound status as a crypto billionaire when his crypto value dropped from $1.1 billion to $870 million.
The creator of Ethereum emphasizes the importance of being realistic and anticipating these fluctuations when investing. He further outlines that there have been three crypto bubbles since the launch of Ethereum. He attributes these changes to event happenings that technology has been able to tackle.
Nevertheless, these setbacks do not and should not undersell the milestones that the crypto software has covered. The crypto software has grown by 590% in the past year alone. The network of NFTs using the Ethereum software has helped boost this ranking. We cannot tell which other applications will hit the global market and further raise the value of Ethereum.
The end goal of Buterin is to empower the ‘small guy.’ He argues that the ‘big guy’ has enough money already. His altruistic nature even led him to donate 1 billion coins to India, to help in aiding the Covid-19 relief for that country. The guru is so optimistic that he predicts that his crypto software might reach, possibly even surpass Bitcoin’s market value. For this to happen, he has instituted measures that will further promote the capability of the software, increase productivity, and even save the environment in the process.
The next step for Vitalik Buterin
You would think that Ethereum has made many significant steps in the last couple of years. Recently, Vitalik and his team introduced the ‘London hard fork,’ which was a software upgrade that reduced Ethereum’s transactional fees in a feature known as the EIP 1559. The move followed the complaints from multiple users that transacting the Ether was quite costly. Interestingly, Ethereum eliminated approximately $2 million worth of Ether currency, in just a few hours after the product launch. Even though this was a positive move on the currency’s side, it put upward pressure on the price of the Ether, going forward.
Despite this amazing change in Ethereum transactional fees, Vitalik Buterin says that there is a much better and revolutionary software upgrade that will take Ethereum to the next level. Up to this level, Ethereum, much like Bitcoin, has been using the ‘proof of work’ system. Nonetheless, the crypto guru plans to introduce a system that will focus on reducing the energy consumption of the software.
The system is meant to reduce power by up to 1000X – 10,000X times. More appropriately, the system will cut its energy use by 99%. Vitalik and his team of developers have been actively working to help transition Ethereum from a ‘proof of work’ system to a ‘proof of stake’ system. The new system utilizes a different approach in securing the network while eliminating the problem of carbon emission.
Vitalik Buterin hopes to change from the current system to the new system by early 2022 in a process that he calls ‘the merge’. He further explains that the system could be in effect as early as late 2021, resulting in the introduction of ETH 2.0. All in all, there is much promise to the direction of Ethereum and Vitalik is relentless to make it the ideal crypto software for the world in the coming years.
First published on Aug 31, 2021