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What is Ethereum?
The vision of Ethereum is to create an unstoppable, censorship resistant,
self-sustaining, decentralised, world computer. To achieve this, Ethereum
builds on the concepts we saw with Bitcoin. If you consider Bitcoin as
trustless validation and distributed storage of (transaction) data,
Ethereum is trustless validation and distributed storage and processing
of data and logic.
Ethereum has a public blockchain running on 15,000 computers158 and
the token on the blockchain is called Ether, currently the second most
popular cryptocurrency.
Like Bitcoin, Ethereum is also a bunch of protocols written out as code
which is run as Ethereum software which creates Ethereum transactions
containing data about Ether coins (ETH) recorded on Ethereum’s
blockchain. In contrast with Bitcoin, Ethereum transactions can contain
more than just payment data, and the nodes in Ethereum are capable of
validating and processing much more than simple payments.
On Ethereum, you can submit transactions that create smart contracts—
small bits of general purpose logic that are stored on Ethereum’s
blockchain on all of the Ethereum nodes. These smart contracts can be
invoked by sending Ether to them. This is a bit like deploying a juke
machine, then putting coins in to play music. When a smart contract is
invoked, all the Ethereum nodes run the code and update their ledgers
with the results. These transactions and smart contracts are run by all
participants using a sort of operating system called a ‘Ethereum Virtual
Machine’.
Ethereum’s blockchain can be interrogated using websites like
Ethereum’s blockchain can be interrogated using websites like
etherscan.io. As with Bitcoin, there are also forks of the main Ethereum,
such as Ethereum Classic, which is also a public blockchain. Each fork
has a separate coin (Ethereum’s coin is denoted ETH whereas Ethereum
Classic’s coin is denoted ETC). The forks have a shared history with
Ethereum up to a certain point in time, after which the blockchains differ
(we will discuss forks later).
Ethereum’s code can also be run as a private network, starting a new
blockchain with limited participants.

How Do You Run Ethereum?

To participate in the Ethereum network, you can download some

software called an Ethereum client, or you can write some yourself if you

have the patience. Just like BitTorrent or Bitcoin, the Ethereum client

will connect over the internet to other people’s computers running

similar client software and start downloading the Ethereum blockchain

from them to catch up with the latest state of the blockchain. It will also

independently validate that each block conforms to the Ethereum

protocol rules.

What does the Ethereum client software do? You can use it to:

• Connect to the Ethereum network

• Validate transactions and blocks

• Create new transactions and smart contracts

• Run smart contracts

• Mine for new blocks

Your computer becomes a ‘node’ on the network, running an Ethereum

Virtual Machine, and behaves equivalently to all the other nodes.

Remember in a peer-to-peer network there is no ‘master’ server and each

computer is equivalent in status to any other.

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