Ethereum History in 5 Minutes
A quick retelling of the history of Ethereum using pretty pictures and quotes from prominent writings.
Each visualization is built directly from on-chain and other data, and accompanies quotes from the wonderful books of Cami Russo and Matt Leising along with some resources from the great EthHub, Zima Red, The Defiant, and ethereum.org.
“In April 2014…Gavin published the Ethereum Yellow Paper, a technical specification of Vitalik’s white paper. While the  white paper described the concept of Ethereum for the first time…the Yellow Paper dove into the exact details, the nuts and bolts of the Ethereum Virtual Machine.” (Russo, p. 113)
“At the start of the  sale…one bitcoin bought 2,000 ether…When investors sent their bitcoin to the EthSuisse wallet…[t]hey got an Ethereum wallet and password.” (Russo, pp. 133-134)
“…the amount of money raised was also a reflection of an intensely anticipated project led by a teenager hailed as a genius coder, building the next-generation blockchain.” (Russo, p. 141)
“On the night of July 30 , Vitalik, Jeff, Gav and other developers like Vlad Zamfir were waiting for the countdown… ‘And then the network launched,’ Vitalik said.” (Leising, p. 221)
“They hadn’t done two separate versions intentionally …It was also safer to have multiple clients in case one implementation got attacked.” (Russo, p. 113)
“By the end of the day [July 2015], Vitalik and Gavin congregated around the TV and the rest of the developers followed. Some cracked open a beer as they stood together watching the block number tick up.” (Russo, p. 155)
“The attack had begun [June, 2016]. Thousands of these small transactions would accrue throughout the day as the theft continued. People all over the world watched as it occurred, helpless to stop it. Eventually $55 million of ether was stolen, making it the largest digital heist in history at the time.” (Leising, p. 4)
“…as the Ethereum community watched a new version of their blockchain was born. Or, to be precise, their old blockchain wouldn’t die. It came to be known as Ethereum Classic, or ETC.” (Leising, p. 240)
“At first, there was about one ICO per week, then it was one every couple of days, and then there could be up to two in the same day. Every other week an ICO seemed to completely dwarf the previous mammoth one.” (Russo, p. 235)
“Ethereum was now worth over $100 billion. Traders were piling into the market so quickly, they momentarily crashed some of the biggest cryptocurrency exchanges.” (Russo, p. 278)
2020 — future
“The scripting language used by Ethereum is Turing-complete, essentially meaning that the types of DApps users can design is limited only by their programming skills and creativity…which can include games, digital collectibles, online-voting systems, financial products and many others.” (EthHub)
“The metaverse is a virtual environment where people live, work, and play. You can think of it as being similar to the virtual world ‘OASIS’ in the movie Ready Player One, but instead of a central corporation controlling everything, users in the metaverse control their own assets.” (Zima Red)
“Sharding is a multi-phase upgrade to improve Ethereum’s scalability and capacity. Shard chains spread the network’s load across 64 new chains. Shard chains should ship sometime in 2021.” (ethereum.org)
“The Beacon Chain will introduce proof-of-stake to Ethereum…Think of it like a public good that will make Ethereum healthier and earn you more ETH in the process. In practice, it will involve you [depositing] ETH in order to activate validator software. As a validator you’ll process transactions and create new blocks in the chain.” (ethereum.org)
Nodes are arrayed on a circular graph folded onto itself and jittered. Edges reflect the many deposits, and lines shown are numbered proportionally for each depositor’s on-chain data. The blue pool of expanding deposits has its radius locked onto a cumulative sum of ether put into the contract, ending at its outer ring with over 2% of all ether…we see depicted the future of Ethereum — the promise of orders of magnitude scaling in transaction throughput... [w]e await its future.
Takens Theorem uses Twitter. See ethstory.eth.link for lots of detail about this project and its origins. These visuals were auctioned as NFTs, and all proceeds went to charities (including GiveDirectly, GiveWell, Rainforest Foundation US, and more; see ethstory.eth.link for on-chain proof of these donations).