In 2016 a decentralized autonomous organization called The DAO, a set of smart contracts developed on the platform, raised a record US$150 million in a crowdsale to fund the project. The DAO was exploited in June when US$50 million in ether were taken by an unknown hacker. The event sparked a debate in the crypto-community about whether Ethereum should perform a contentious "hard fork" to reappropriate the affected funds. As a result of the dispute, the network split in two. Ethereum (the subject of this article) continued on the forked blockchain, while Ethereum Classic continued on the original blockchain. The hard fork created a rivalry between the two networks.
The "Metropolis Part 1: Byzantium" soft fork took effect on 16 October 2017, and included changes to reduce the complexity of the EVM and provide more flexibility for smart contract developers. Byzantium also added supports for zk-SNARKs (from Zcash), with the first zk-SNARK transaction occurring on testnet on September 19, 2017.
In 2014, researchers at the University of Kentucky found "robust evidence that computer programming enthusiasts and illegal activity drive interest in bitcoin, and find limited or no support for political and investment motives". Australian researchers have estimated that 25% of all bitcoin users and 44% of all bitcoin transactions are associated with illegal activity as of April 2017. There were an estimated 24 million bitcoin users primarily using bitcoin for illegal activity. They held $8 billion worth of bitcoin, and made 36 million transactions valued at $72 billion.
The first wallet program, simply named Bitcoin, and sometimes referred to as the Satoshi client, was released in 2009 by Satoshi Nakamoto as open-source software. In version 0.5 the client moved from the wxWidgets user interface toolkit to Qt, and the whole bundle was referred to as Bitcoin-Qt. After the release of version 0.9, the software bundle was renamed Bitcoin Core to distinguish itself from the underlying network.
لضمان صحّة عمليات التحويل، يقوم نظام البيتكوين بالاحتفاظ بسجل حسابات تُسجل فيه جميع الإجراءات التي تتم على الشبكة يُطلق عليه اسم سلسلة الكُتل (بالإنجليزية: block chain). تتشارك جميع العُقد المتواجدة على شبكة البيتكوين هذا السجل عبر نظام يعتمد على بروتوكول بِتكُيِن. تحتوي سلسلة الكُتل على جميع الإجراءات التي تمت باستخدام بِتكُيِن، وهو ما يُمكن من معرفة الرصيد الذي يملكه كل عنوان على هذه الشبكة. يُطلق على هذا المفهوم وصف السلسلة للترابط المتواجد ما بين الكُتل، حيث تحتوي كل كُتلة على هاش الكُتلة التي تسبقها ويتواصل الأمر إلى غاية الوصول إلى الكُتلة الأولى التي يُطلق عليها اسم "كتلة التكوين" (بالإنجليزية: genesis block) . تكوين السلسلة بهذه الطريقة يجعل من مهمة تغيير أي كُتلة بعد مرور مُدة مُعينة على إنشائها في غاية الصعوبة، حيث أن تغيير أي كُتلة يتطلب تغيير كل الكُتل التي تليها بسبب الحاجة إلى إعادة حساب هاش كل كُتلة لتحديث قيمة هاش الكُتلة السابقة فيها. هذه الخاصية هي ما يجعل من مُشكل الإنفاق المُتكرر لنفس العُملات في غاية الصعوبة على بِتكُيِن، بل ويُمكن اعتبار سلسلة الكُتل العمود الفقري الذي لا يُمكن لعُملة بِتكُيِن الوقوف من دونه.
Ethereum has recently created a new standard called the ERC721 token for tracking unique digital assets. One of the biggest use cases currently for such tokens is digital collectibles, as the infrastructure allows for people to prove ownership of scarce digital goods. Many games are currently being built using this technology, such as the overnight hit CryptoKitties, a game where you can collect and breed digital cats.
In September 2015, the establishment of the peer-reviewed academic journal Ledger (ISSN 2379-5980) was announced. It covers studies of cryptocurrencies and related technologies, and is published by the University of Pittsburgh. The journal encourages authors to digitally sign a file hash of submitted papers, which will then be timestamped into the bitcoin blockchain. Authors are also asked to include a personal bitcoin address in the first page of their papers.
As with other cryptocurrencies, the validity of each ether is provided by a blockchain, which is a continuously growing list of records, called blocks, which are linked and secured using cryptography. By design, the blockchain is inherently resistant to modification of the data. It is an open, distributed ledger that records transactions between two parties efficiently and in a verifiable and permanent way. Unlike Bitcoin, Ethereum operates using accounts and balances in a manner called state transitions. This does not rely upon unspent transaction outputs (UTXOs). State denotes the current balances of all accounts and extra data. State is not stored on the blockchain, it is stored in a separate Merkle Patricia tree. A cryptocurrency wallet stores the public and private "keys" or "addresses" which can be used to receive or spend ether. These can be generated through BIP 39 style mnemonics for a BIP 32 "HD Wallet". In Ethereum, this is unnecessary as it does not operate in a UTXO scheme. With the private key, it is possible to write in the blockchain, effectively making an ether transaction.