Ethereum is a decentralized platform that runs smart contracts: applications that run exactly as programmed without any possibility of downtime, censorship, fraud, or third-party interference. These apps run on a custom-built blockchain, an enormously powerful shared global infrastructure that can move value around and represent the ownership of property.
This enables developers to create markets, store registries of debts or promises, move funds in accordance with instructions given long in the past (like a will or a futures contract), and many other things that have not been invented yet, all without a middleman or counterparty risk.
The project was bootstrapped via an ether presale in August 2014 by fans all around the world. It is developed by the Ethereum Foundation, a Swiss non-profit, with contributions from great minds across the globe.
On the Ethereum platform, users can write code that controls digital value, runs exactly as programmed, and is accessible anywhere in the world. This opens up a whole new realm of possibilities, such as creating a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) that can exist and operate without any human intervention.
One of the key advantages of Ethereum over other blockchain platforms is its support for smart contracts, which are self-executing contracts with the terms of the agreement between buyer and seller being directly written into lines of code. This eliminates the need for intermediaries and reduces the potential for disputes.
Another key advantage of Ethereum is its flexibility. Unlike other blockchain platforms that are designed for specific use cases, Ethereum is designed to be adaptable and can be used to build a wide range of applications. This has led to a vibrant ecosystem of developers and entrepreneurs building a wide range of decentralized applications on top of the Ethereum platform.