Ethereum is an open-source, public, blockchain-based distributed computing platform featuring smart contract (scripting) functionality. It provides a decentralized Turing-complete virtual machine, the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM), which can execute scripts using an international network of public nodes. Ethereum also provides a cryptocurrency token called "ether", which can be transferred between accounts and used to compensate participant nodes for computations performed. "Gas", an internal transaction pricing mechanism, is used to mitigate spam and allocate resources on the network.
Ethereum was proposed in late 2013 by Vitalik Buterin, a cryptocurrency researcher and programmer. Development was funded by an online crowdsale during July–August 2014. The system went live on 30 July 2015.
In 2016 Ethereum was forked into two blockchains, as a result of the collapse of The DAO project, thereby creating Ethereum Classic.
Several prototypes of the Ethereum platform were developed by the Foundation, as part of their Proof-of-Concept series, prior to the official launch of the Frontier network. The last of these prototypes culminated in a public beta pre-release known as "Olympic". The Olympic network provided users with a bug bounty of 25,000 ether for stress testing the limits of the Ethereum blockchain.
After Olympic, the Foundation announced the beginning of the Frontier network to mark the tentative experimental release of the Ethereum platform in July of 2015. Since the initial launch, Ethereum has undergone several planned protocol upgrades called milestones, which are important changes affecting the underlying functionality and/or incentive structures of the platform.
The current milestone is named "Homestead" and is considered stable. It includes improvements to transaction processing, gas pricing, and security. There are at least two other protocol upgrades planned in the future, i.e. Metropolis and Serenity. Metropolis is intended to reduce the complexity of the EVM and provide more flexibility for smart contract developers. The move to Serenity is still uncertain, but should include a fundamental change to Ethereum's consensus algorithm to enable a basic transition from hardware mining (proof-of-work) to virtual mining (proof-of-stake). Improvements to scalability, specifically sharding, are also said to be a key objective on the development roadmap.
In the ETH world funds were returned to their rightful owners, while in the ETC world the attacker has won.
We are closely watching the situation. Things are getting more stable and the market is responding naturally with minimal upset. At this point in time we are not yet supporting ETC. There are a couple of reasons, why ETC might have problems that need to be resolved first: