Ethereum is a cryptocurrency and blockchain technology that offers a decentralized, global computer. Developers can create and deploy their own decentralized applications (Dapps) and crypto coins on the Ethereum network because the platform is programmable. Ethereum is more like a marketplace of financial services, games, social networks, and other applications that respect your privacy and cannot censor you, in contrast to Bitcoin, which is only a payment network. Bitcoin is likened to "digital gold" (a store of value), whereas ether is likened to "digital oil," which fuels a decentralized, global computer. Programmer Vitalik Buterin first introduced Ethereum in a white paper that was released in 2013. Smart contracts can be written and executed using a programming language on the decentralized virtual computer that is the Ethereum network. The conditions of a contract entered into by human or computer counterparties can be automatically facilitated, verified, or enforced by smart contract software. The ether, the cryptocurrency unit of the Ethereum network, is used to pay for the distributed computational resources that the network brings to bear on a smart contract. The Ethereum network's digital asset token is called ether, or ETH (similar to how bitcoin or BTC is the digital asset token of the Bitcoin network). The Ethereum blockchain contains a record of every ETH balance and transaction. The "wei" is the smallest unit of ETH and is named for Wei Dai, a computer engineer and cryptographer best recognized for inventing b-money and creating the Crypto++ library. One wei is equal to 10-18 ETH or one quintillionth of an ether (.000000000000000001 ETH). Ether can be purchased and sold for fiat money, such as USD or other fiat currencies, or for other cryptocurrencies.

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