Vitalik Buterin - The Founder of Ethereum

Vitalik Buterin - The Founder of Ethereum

Vitalik Buterin is a crypto prodigy who minted Ethereum when he was only 21, a decentralized, open-source blockchain platform. We are all familiar with the man behind Ethereum but do we know anything about him other than the fact that he is the co-founder of Ethereum? In this blog, we take a look at the events in little Vitalik’s life that brought him into the cryptocurrency world and what made him co-found Ethereum. From his World of Warcraft days to earning Bitcoins at the age of 17, here is Vitalik Buterin, the crypto genius.

What is Ethereum?

Ethereum, like other cryptocurrencies, uses blockchain technology. Blockchain technology creates distributed consensus about the state of the Ethereum network. New blocks are added to the very long Ethereum blockchain to process Ethereum transactions and mint new ether coins or to execute smart contracts for Ethereum dApps.

The Ethereum network is secured by the decentralized nature of blockchain technology. A vast network of computers worldwide maintains the Ethereum blockchain network. The network requires distributed consensus or majority agreement for any changes to be made to the blockchain. This makes tampering with data nearly impossible.

The Ethereum is described as the “world’s programmable blockchain”, positioning itself as an electronic, programmable network with many applications. The network’s users can create, publish, monetize, and use a diverse range of applications on the Ethereum platform, and can use ETH or another cryptocurrency as payment. Bitcoin, by contrast, was created only to support the bitcoin cryptocurrency.

The Life Story of Buterin

Vitalik Dmitriyevich Buterin was born on 31 January 1994 in Kolomna, Moscow to Dmitry Buterin and Natalia Ameline. When he turned 16, the Buterin family emigrated to Canada in search of better employment opportunities. Intellectually blessed since childhood, while in grade three of an elementary school in Canada, Buterin was placed into a class for gifted children. There he was drawn to mathematics, programming, and economics; concepts that would later form the foundation for Ethereum. Even among the gifted students in the special class, his speed for mental arithmetic was unmatched. Vitalik was also an avid World of Warcraft gamer. Buterin recalls a memory where a recent update in WoW changed his favourite character and weakened it. He must have realized the horrors of centralized services and understood how important decentralization is.

"I happily played World of Warcraft during 2007-2010, but one day Blizzard removed the damage component from my beloved warlock’s Siphon Life spell. I cried myself to sleep, and on that day I realized what horrors centralized services can bring. I soon decided to quit."

Buterin’s father, who was a computer programmer himself, introduced him to bitcoin at the age of 17. The WoW incident coupled with more research on Bitcoin fuelled his passion for crypto. He started perpetually researching the network and the technology behind it. In order to earn a few bucks, Buterin began writing about bitcoin for a blog. Apparently, he was earning 5 bitcoins (BTC) per article- 1 BTC priced at about $3.5 at the time. In a later interview, Buterin reveals that he earned as much as 20 BTC writing for forums; 8.5 of which he spent on a T-shirt. Today, that would amount to about $324,000. Talk about an expensive T-Shirt.

Buterin wrote for the site until its website shut down soon thereafter due to insufficient revenue. But not before catching the attention of Mihai Alisie, a Bitcoin enthusiast from Romania, in 2011. Together, they founded a new print publication called the Bitcoin Magazine. Buterin contributed as the leading writer for the magazine while taking advanced courses at the University of Waterloo. He was also working as a research assistant for cryptographer Ian Goldberg. All this honed his talent for programming. In 2012, he took part in the International Olympiad in Informatics, securing the bronze medal.

Soon, he would go on to realize that cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology were beyond just Bitcoin. Therefore, in 2013, he visited developers in other countries who shared his enthusiasm for programming. Upon his return, he published the Ethereum whitepaper later that year. He dropped out of university in 2014 when he was awarded a grant of $100,000 from the Thiel Fellowship, a scholarship created by venture capitalist Peter Thiel. Buterin then went on to work on Ethereum full-time.

Buterin had realized that cryptocurrency could be used for “more than just money” and should allow for more “freedom”. His dream was to develop a blockchain with a built-in programming language. He proposed the development of a new platform with a more general scripting language. And thus, the Ethereum project began its development stages towards the end of the following year; just when Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies were gaining mass audience and attention. At the time, the core of the Ethereum team consisted of Vitalik Buterin, Mihai Alisie, Charles Hoskinson, Anthony Di Lorio, Gavin Wood, and Joseph Lubin.

The Ethereum whitepaper was circulated and grabbed public interest in late 2013 and early 2014. But it was at the 2013 North American Bitcoin Conference in Miami that Buterin publicly and officially announced Ethereum. The 19-year-old Buterin had been listed on the program as “head writer at Bitcoin Magazine” and had not previously given a talk at a conference. He delivered a 25-minute speech describing the general-purpose general computer operating on a decentralized permissionless network. He finished with listing the potential uses for Ethereum that ranged from crop insurance to decentralized exchanges and DAOs.

This worked, clearly, as the sale of their token ether for bitcoin alone generated over $18 million. This allowed the team to set up the Ethereum Foundation, which they registered as a non-profit organization in Switzerland in order to supervise the open-source nature of Ethereum’s software. Ethereum’s prospect of creating a new decentralized internet has come to fruition with Vitalik Buterin firmly at the fore.

Today, the market capitalization of Ethereum is over $300 billion with one ETH priced at $2600 at the time of writing. Ethereum is also the foundation of countless crypto projects including the booming NFT industry. Buterin has claimed the title of the world’s youngest crypto billionaire thanks to ether’s latest gains. At the current price, the 325,104 ETH in his wallets are worth approximately $846 million. Forbes estimates his total wealth of $1.46 billion.

The Future of Ethereum

Ethereum’s transition to the proof of stake protocol is a major upgrade to the Ethereum platform known as Eth2. Proof of Stake enables users to validate transactions and mint new ETH based on their ether holdings. Ethereum is adopted by high-profile enterprises and the average crypto investor alike. And the growth will not stop anytime soon.

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