What exactly is Ethereum? Explained

In 2015, Vitalik Buterin launched Ethereum with his co-founders, which is now the undisputed primary Blockchain based Network in the world, and the second largest cryptocurrency by marketcap behind Bitcoin.

What is Ethereum?

Ethereum is a decentralised, open source (see our article regarding the Blockchain) network which aims to let anybody build Blockchain products and assets on top of it through its original coding language, Solidity, therefore democratising access to and construction of useful societary tools. 
Products and functionalities are accessible through use of its native token, $ETH, which is mined by a decentralised network of computers, and has unlimited supply. This network is responsible of approving network user transactions and, by doing so, collectively running the Ethereum Blockchain; however, scalability  issues have made the network congested, and fees are often very high.
All of this is part of a larger problem regarding Ethereum’s original proof of work structure; upcoming changes proposed by Vitalik Buterin will be implemented in Its merge, which will determine (if successful) Ethereum’s transition to a proof of stake system, where miners are obsolete.
Ethereum has inspired many other decentralized networks, and has brought a lot of institutional attention to the Blockchain space; its products range from DeFi (decentralized finance) protocols and Non Fungible Tokens (NFTs), to decentralized gaming and music streaming services.

What differentiates Ethereum from Bitcoin?

While Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency and its sole purpose is being a peer to peer, permissionless transaction network, in other words Digital Money, Ethereum is a decentralised platform on which many different products can be built, and its token is produced in function of this. Its price fluctuation depends on Ethereum’s success, as Bitcoin’s price depends on the product’s success, but $ETH isn’t the product: The Ethereum network is. Additionally, $ETH has no defined supply, against Bitcoin’s 21 Million, though this might change in the near future (This can be found in our article about ETH 2.0 as well).
Ethereum’s products have revolutionised global perception of the Blockchain, and demonstrate, alongside other Blockchain Projects such as Vechain or Audius, how this technology means substantially more than just cryptocurrencies.
A fitting example is the smart contract, which usually allows for ironclad conditions between parties to run automatically and are changing the way financial lending will be practiced in the future, but can also allow the construction of Non Fungible Tokens (N.F.T.S), Which are the first example of online property ownership. Many other projects can be built on the Network, such as Play to Earn/Own Games, and Decentralised Autonomous Organisations.
Bitcoin and Ethereum represent the variety of a space which is often judged as a whole; a cryptocurrency can be anything from a store of value to  a simple network token.