Open, distributed blockchain application platform that provides decentralized virtual machines that handle peer-to-peer contracts through its proprietary cryptocurrency Ethereum. Allows anyone to build and use decentralized applications running through blockchain technology without any fraud, censorship, or third-party regulation.
The concept of Ethereum was first proposed in 2013-2014 by Vitalik Buterin after he was inspired by Bitcoin to work together to build a more global, free and reliable Internet.
Ethereum is an innovation that applies some of the techniques and concepts from Bitcoin to computing. Bitcoin is thought of as a system that maintains a shared ledger that securely records all bitcoin bills. Ethereum utilizes many mechanisms similar to Bitcoin (such as blockchain technology and P2P networks) to maintain a shared computing platform that is flexible and secure enough to run any program a user wants (including, of course, Bitcoin-like blockchain programs).
Before the emergence of Ethereum, there have been many projects based on blockchain technology that attempt to implement the above-mentioned blockchain applications. However, all of these projects had certain limitations and could only support one or several specific applications at the same time. The reason why Ethernet can surpass the limitations of these previous projects is because of its core idea: what Ethernet wants to implement is a blockchain protocol with a built-in programming language, and since the programming language is supported, then theoretically any blockchain application can be defined in this language and then run as an application on top of Ethernet's blockchain protocol (translation: the significance of this protocol is similar to that of the Internet era TCP/IP protocol). Instead of those previous projects, each defining its own blockchain protocol, each supporting one or several specific blockchain applications, and incompatible with each other. Moreover, the blockchain protocols based on Ether's support for programming can not only implement the various blockchain applications that have been proposed as mentioned before, but also, in the future, can implement brand new blockchain applications that people have not yet thought of now. In other words, the blockchain protocol defined by Ethernet makes it possible for blockchain application developers to develop top-level applications efficiently and quickly.
Ethereum can be thought of as a "global computer": a place where anyone can upload and execute applications, and where their effective execution is guaranteed, relying on the highly robust, decentralized, consensus network of thousands of computers around the world that is the Ether system. Ethereum, based on the blockchain technology applied in Bitcoin and other systems, also uses the cryptography and economic incentives used in Bitcoin and other systems as a guarantee of computational security. However, thanks to its support for programming languages, Ethereum is able to open up even greater possibilities.
As a concrete example, imagine a scenario where a bicycle rental service is provided using Slock, an Ethernet-based IoT platform. The owner of the bike would install a Slock (smart lock) on their bike and register a smart contract (a piece of computer program code) with the bike on the Ether blockchain. After receiving the request, the contract automatically forwards the digital currency to the owner of the bike and records a status indicating that the sender of the digital currency has just acquired some kind of ownership, such as the right to use the bike for the next three hours. For the next three hours, the person can send a specific signature message to the Slock (smart lock) via their smartphone, which will open the lock on the bike. The entire rental process described above does not involve any centralized payment processor, even the company Slock itself. Therefore, people who use locks like Slock do not have to worry about their locks not working after the Slock company goes out of business, nor do they have to worry about service providers suddenly starting to be charged high fees, nor do they have to worry about all their private transaction information falling into the hands of one party.
Other blockchain applications based on Ether include a wide variety of financial contracts - from simple digital applications for physical assets (gold, stocks) to complex applications for some financial derivatives, more secure update and maintenance applications for Internet infrastructure (such as DNS and digital authentication), personal online identity management applications that do not rely on centralized personal online identity management applications that don't rely on centralized service providers (since centralized service providers are likely to leave some kind of back door and use it to snoop on your personal privacy).
Essentially, the goal of Ethernet is to bring the three characteristics of decentralization, openness, and security that blockchain technology has to offer to almost any area that can be counted.