Since I began my occasional musings on all things Bitcoin around a year and a half ago I have touched on many aspects of digital currency, but there is one that I have avoided: the large number of other currencies modeled on Bitcoin that have been seen as rivals. That lack of interest in “altcoins” as they are collectively referred to has, to this point at least, looked justified. Litecoin, Dogecoin and a host of others have had varying degrees of success, but none have really threatened to overtake bitcoin in terms of size or scope…until now. That has changed with the rapid rise of Ethereum.
Ethereum was originally proposed in a white paper published by Vitalik Buterin in 2013, but didn’t become a reality until the genesis block was released at the end of July last year. It is in many ways similar to Bitcoin. The record keepers of the system, the miners, are rewarded by receiving blocks of a currency (in this case called ether), based on proof of work. Unlike Bitcoin, which has an absolute limit on the number of coins that can ever be issued, Ethereum blocks will remain constant in size and have no pre-set limit