Ethereum is arguably the second-most recognized cryptocurrency in the world today. The man behind this digital token is 24 year-old Vitalik Buterin. This programmer has devoted much of his short life to exploring the technology behind cryptocurrencies. In addition to being a co-founder of Ethereum, Buterin was also an early adopter of Bitcoin. He has founded his own magazine and is frequently asked to speak at conferences about the future of cryptocurrency.
If someone asks you, “Who created Ethereum?” here is a little background about Vitalik Buterin and his overall importance to blockchain technology.
Vitalik Buterin’s Background
Buterin comes by his interest in computer technology honestly. His father is also a computer scientist. Vitalik Buterin was born in Russia in 1994, right about the time the Internet was emerging from its birth cocoon. At the time there weren’t many opportunities for the elder Buterin in Moscow, so the family decided to emigrate to Canada and take advantage of the growth of the Internet and its related technology.
It did not take long for the schoolmasters in Canada to realize Vitalik’s advanced intellect. He had the ability to add three-digit numbers in his head twice as fast as other students. Soon, he was placed in an advanced class for the gifted. Even as a young student he showed a particular affinity for math, programming, and economics. All of these interests would serve him well in his future endeavors.
The Abelard private high school in Canada was chosen as the place where Buterin would pursue his education. The school has a strong reputation for educating Canada’s brightest young people. Buterin considers this period of his life to be the most important so far. He feels that it gave him the best foundation he could have hoped for to succeed as a computer scientist.
Buterin Discovers Bitcoin
In 2011 Vitalik Buterin was introduced to Bitcoin by his father. Buterin was encouraged to explore the applications of the blockchain. You could say that the Buterin family were all early adopters of the principles which are the foundation of cryptocurrency: a cashless system of peer-to-peer exchange that is more private and secure.
By 2012 Buterin was looking for practical ways to pursue his interest in digital currency. His skills led him to the International Olympiad for Informatics. Vitalik was fortunate enough to garner a bronze medal at he gathering. This began to propel Buterin into an international spotlight. Suddenly, developers from other countries were asking him to consult and learn about code. 2013 was a year of travel that allowed the young man to associate with other bright minds in the world of cryptocurrency.
The developer’s earliest experiences with Bitcoin as a testimony to his entrepreneurial spirit. He began to make his presence known on Bitcoin forums. Soon he was asked to write an article on the subject of Bitcoin for a blog. In what was probably one of the earliest crypto-currency exchanges of Bitcoin for a service, Buterin was paid five of the tokens for his work. At the time, the value of the payment was roughly $3.50 in cash.
Buterin then became a co-founder of Bitcoin Magazine. The publication began as a digital endeavor and was later also published in print. He also started working in an editorial capacity for Ledger magazine. There can be little doubt that writing for Bitcoin publications served two purposes. It expanded Buterin’s knowledge of the currency, and it also made his name prominent in important circles while establishing him as an authority.
Vitalik Buterin and Ethereum
At some point a seed was planted. Buterin was a fan of Bitcoin, but he envisioned ways that the cryptocurrency and the blockchain that supported it could be improved. He thought it was possible to create an architecture that would allow individuals to create their own cryptocurrencies. His vision was to make it possible for individuals to enter into binding agreements on the framework of the blockchain.
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In late 2013 Buterin was back at home in Toronto. He began to write a whitepaper which outlined the framework for a blockchain architecture that Buterin referred to as Ethereum. The paper was published to little initial fanfare, and the project almost got abandoned when Buterin entered college in 2014. He had no idea that his fortunes were about to change.
Buterin received the Thiel Fellowship which conferred an award of $100,000. This was all the motivation that Buterin needed to leave school and begin working on the Ethereum platform full-time. Among the first arguments that he made was that Bitcoin lacked the crucial element of a scripting language. It was Vitalik’s hope that Ethereum would let users create programs and other digital tokens on the same blockchain.
The vision was realized in the presence of Smart Contracts. This is one of the features that has made Ethereum a direct challenger to Bitcoin today. Some have even speculated that Ethereum will overtake Bitcoin in its popularity and usefulness. It has already powered the creation of numerous tokens, many of which have gained a strong foothold in the cryptocurrency market.
It is quite amazing when one considers that a project as vast as Ethereum was conceived in the mind of a 20-something computer scientist. The story of Vitalik Buterin may hold larger lessons for how the world itself is changing. Since the rise of the Internet, youth has proven itself to be an asset instead of a liability. Young people in today’s world are doing some amazing things, and Buterin is among those leading the charge.