So, someone told you about Ethereum or Ether and you checked out Ethereum.org and got super confused, that's ok. This post will hopefully act as a good starting point for a decent education in Ethereum (arguably the best cryptocurrency to date).
What exactly is Ethereum?
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.
Resources for a more detailed understanding:
- The official general 'white paper' https://github.com/ethereum/wiki/wiki/White-Paper
- The official 'yellow paper' https://ethereum.github.io/yellowpaper/paper.pdf
- The introduction video by Vitalik Buterin as presented at Defocn 1
- Joseph Lubin's interview on building decentralized applications https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MgLmY9oedTM
- A BBC explanation of Ethereum https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0X33lgMbvdI
- Techcrunch on Ethereum https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WfULutvxvzY
Alright, now that you've done some reading and watching you want to know how to get started!
First you'll need a wallet to hold your ether. You should NEVER store your cryptocurrency of choice on an exchange for longer than it takes you to transfer to and from. Personally I like having a hardware wallet like the Nano Ledger S which is made by Ledger. Note, you want the Nano Ledger S so you can store Ether, some models such as the one pictured below will not hold Ether.
There are other wallet options, some good ones are:
- The official Ethereum Wallet
- Parity Wallet
- Harmony Wallet
- The MetaMask Chrome extension
- The client-side MyEtherWallet generator
- A mobile wallet from Jaxx
Ok great, you've got a wallet! Now what?
Well obviously, you need to get some Ether!!! Where would one get Ether...
- My preferred exchange is Coinbase they also have a Beginner's guide
- Another popular exchange is Kraken
There are other exchanges, the following I have no personal experience with:
- Maker Market
- Shapeshift (turn Bitcoin into Ether)
Ok cool, so I have some Ether but what to do with it?
Well this is largely up to you. Some businesses are starting to accept it for purchase of goods and services. Some folks are speculating with it. Some folks are holding on to it for use in the future as more services, companies, DApps etc roll out that will use it. Here are some examples of things you could start doing:
- Learn Solidity and start making your own smart contracts
- Read the documentation so that you can develop a better understanding of what Ethereum is and where it is headed in the future
- Create your own crypto-currency 'tokens' with Ethereum
- Raise funds for a project, an idea, a need from friends/family/strangers without involving a 3rd party like Kickstarter or GoFundMe
- Keep up to date with the current week's news in Ethereum
- Check out what is going on with DApps with the DApp Daily
- Watch the network status to see what is going on in real-time.
- Look for Ethereum Meetups in your area to maybe find some new friends or even people to develop DApp ideas with
- Learn how to build Ethereum DApps using Solidity (YouTube video)