Ether is a cryptocurrency based on Ethereum’s blockchai. It is one of the more well-established cryptocurrencies and there are many sites online where you can pay with Ether or trade in Ether.

Symbol: Ξ (which is the uppercase version of the Greek Xi character)

Abbreviation: ETH

The Ethereum blockchain contains a growing list of blocks (records) which are linked and secured by cryptography.

Unlike the more famous cryptocurrency Bitcoin, Ether doesn’t rely on unspent transaction outputs (UTXOs). Instead, Ether utilizes a state transition system of accounts and balances. State, which denotes the current balance of all acccounts, is stored in a Merkle Patricia tree that is separate from the blockchain.



The base unit for this cryptocurrency is 1 Ether. The subunits are Gwei and Wei.

1 Gwei = 10−9 Ether

1 Wei = 10−18 Ether

The computer engineeer Wei Dai is a pioneer within the field of cryptocurrency and the subunits are named after him.


The issuance for Ether is block and uncle/ommer reward.

The timestamped scheme is Proof-of-Work Ethash.

The hash function is Keccak.

The block reward is 3 ETH (non-deterministic) and the average block time is 14-15 seconds. (This is much faster than Bitcoin, for which the average blocktime is 10 minutes.)

The Ether ledger is open and distributed.

Mining Ether

The process of mining Ether is similar to the one for mining Bitcoin, but the mining rate is more consistent. For Bitcoin, the mining rate has halved every four years. For Ether, the rate is more or less consistent, although hard forks can impact it.

There is no built-in cap for how many Ethers that can be created. Ether #100 million was created in June 2018.

Transaction fee

Ether rely on a system known as gas. Each gas unit have a price (typically set in gwei) and the price is impacted by computational complexity, storage space and use of bandwith. This makes Ether different from Bitcoin, since the Bitcoin transaction fee is based only on transaction size.

Generally speaking, Ether has lower transaction fees than Bitcoin.

What’s Ethereum?

Ethereum is a blockchain-based distributed computig platform and operating system with smart contract (scripting) functionality.

  • Ethereum is public and open-source.
  • Ethereum supports a modified version of Nakamoto consensus via transaction-based state transitions.
  • In 2018, the decision was made to change Ethereum from a pure proof-of-work sheme to a hydrid scheme that combines proof-of-work and proof-of-stake.
  • The internal pricin mechanism for Etherum is called gas and it is used to allocate resources on the network.
  • Scripts are executed by the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM), a decentralized Turing-complete virtual machine using an internal network of public nodes.

Etherum vs. Etherum Classic

In the summer of 2016, the Ethereum community decided to hard-fork the Ethereum blockchain to return money that had been siphoned off by someone who (in June that year) exploited a flaw in the DAO project’s contract software.

The exploiter had managed to move one-third of the money kept in the DAO fund from the fund to a subsidiary account, and thus obtain an amount of Ether that was roughly eqvivalent to 50 million USD.

The decision to hard-fork Etherum to “undo” the heist was highly controversial.

On 20 July 2016 at 01:20:40 PM +UTC, the hard-forking was carried out, at Block 1920000, and virtually all of the ill-gotten Ether were restorded to the original contract.

The un-forked version of the blockchain is maintained as Ethereum Classic.