Vitalik Buterin, who is credited with conceiving the original Ethereum concept, published a white paper to introduce Ethereum in 2013. The Ethereum platform was launched in 2015 by Buterin and Joe Lubin, founder of the blockchain software company ConsenSys. The founders of Ethereum were among the first to consider the full potential of blockchain technology, beyond just enabling the secure trading of virtual currency.
One notable event in Ethereum’s history is the hard fork, or split, of Ethereum and Ethereum Classic. In 2016, a group of network participants gained majority control of the Ethereum blockchain to steal more than $50 million worth of Ether, which had been raised for a project called The DAO. The success of the raid was attributed to involvement by a third-party developer for the new project. While the majority of the Ethereum community opted to reverse the theft by invalidating the existing Ethereum blockchain and approving a blockchain with a revised history, a fraction of the community chose to maintain the original version of the Ethereum blockchain. That unaltered version of Ethereum permanently split to become the cryptocurrency Ethereum Classic, or ETC.
Since the launch of Ethereum, Ether as a cryptocurrency has risen to become the second-largest cryptocurrency by market value. It is outranked only by Bitcoin.