This week is being celebrated by many crypto enthusiasts as Ethereum’s 5-year anniversary, marking the first live release of the Ethereum project (called Frontier) that took place on July 30th 2015, when the first genesis block revealed itself, and developers were able to install the various clients.
In as much as that date marked the initial operations of the Ethereum blockchain, the birth of Ethereum was actually paved by a series of events that led to the July 30th more public manifestation.
For me, Ethereum was born when I first heard that Vitalik Buterin was writing the original white paper that defined it, and resulted in captivating the interests of thousands, and later millions of people around the world. I met Vitalik on January 1st 2014 when the paper wasn’t yet finalized, and became a believer a few minutes later.
For others, Ethereum’s launch became more visible when Vitalik later travelled to Miami, and made the first public presentation about Ethereum at the North American Bitcoin Conference at the end of January 2014.
Then I became closely associated with the Ethereum project and its founders during the ensuing period, leading-up to the launch of another key milestone: the launch of its public sale and its successful completion on Sept 2, 2014.
So, one could say that each one of these following events were important and necessary milestones, all of them leading-up to the “birth” of Ethereum according to any way you’d like to define it:
First code commit (December 2013)
White Paper (January 2014)
Miami public announcement (January 2014)
Legal formation in Switzerland (Feb-Jun 2014)
Completion of public sale (Sept 2014)
EthDev creation (Sept 2014)
Intense development period (Sept 2014 – July 2015)
Frontier Launch (July 30th 2015) <—- What we are celebrating today
DevCon1, its first large-scale celebratory event (Nov 2015)
Contrasting 2015 to 2020, the level of buzz around Ethereum is the same today, and I would summarize it in two words: “Hope and Excitement”.
Looking back at the past 5 years, Ethereum has more than delivered on growing the groundswell support from developers. Ethereum has always been about developers, and developers adoption has far exceeded original expectations. Ethereum layed out the vision, and they came.
In typical startup fashion, Ethereum launched on July 30th 2015 when the product wasn’t perfect, nor complete, and this was intentional. During that time, the Ethereum Foundation decided to launch it anyways, against the advice of some its board members, and it was a very good decision even when the product had its flaws. It was time for Ethereum to evolve and grow outside of its womb, not inside of it.
Looking forward while reflecting back, maybe Ethereum will never be entirely finished. Just as with the Internet and communications technology, we go on waiting for 4G and 5G after 3G, or IPv6 after IPv4, Ethereum will always have a “next next” thing, and that’s not such a bad position to be in, for progress to take place. Today, the “next Ethereum” is undoubtedly Ethereum 2.0, and even Eth 2.0 will include several iterations.
In 2015, Bitcoin was the “competition”, and Ethereum was this newcomer that tried to emulate some parts of Bitcoin, while doing other things better or differently. Today, Ethereum is in the leading position for blockchain development, and other blockchain technologies keep trying to emulate, mimick or differentiate from it, via diverse implementations.
From a market position, there will always be one Ethereum, just as there is one Bitcoin, one Amazon, one Google, one Netflix or one Tesla. Leaders within their own categories are not defined by others. They are defined by themselves.
Since the blockchain lives in dog years, Ethereum’s adolescent journey is now entering adulthood.
Happy 5th Anniversary, Ethereum!