At the age of just 19, the Canadian-Russian teenager Vitalik Buterin created a crypto-empire. An empire consisting of the cryptocurrency Ethereum, which at the time of writing is the second largest cryptocurrency measured at market value, right in the heels of Bitcoin. A market value, which in December 2017 peaked at a market value of approximately $ 138 billion, resulting from an Ethereum price of over $1400 for one Ether.
We give you the story of Vitalik Buterin; The story of a genius whose IQ is as big as Einstein’s IQ, if not larger. The story of a boy who did not play Lego as little, but preferred to play in – and explore the possibilities with Microsoft Excel. A teenager who, at the age of 19 years back in 2014, moved from the hometown of Toronto to Zug, Switzerland, to develop what we now know as Ethereum. And moreover, the story of an adult man in the early 20’s, who learned to understand and speak sensible mandarin in just 4 months.
You can sense where we are heading. And it will be even wilder. We have gathered the threads of Vitalik Buterin’s life (so far) – and reproduced them to find out why and how he created the world’s second largest cryptocurrency; Ethereum.
Vitalik Buterin’s upbringing: from Russia to Canada
Vitalik was born January 31, 1994, in a city called Colomna in Russia, where he grew up until he reached 6 years. In 2000, his parents, Dmitry Buterin and Natalia Ameline chose to move to Canada in search of better job opportunities, where it was easier for Vitalik’s father to find a job related to his education as a computer engineer.
“Vitalik loved playing with Excel as a whole, where he made some basic calculations.”
Dmitry Buterin, father of Vitalik Buterin
It did not take long before Vitalik’s teacher caught sight of his high intelligence. Among other things. They saw that Vitalik could multiply three-digit numbers over twice as fast as his peer classmates.
As a result, he was asked in class 3 to change class to a class of extra intelligent children. Here Vitalik’s flair flourished in particular for mathematics and programming, resulting in a natural interest in economics. It would later prove to be of great importance to his future.
But Vitalik’s intelligence had a backside. He was struggling to find his place in social contexts, which resulted in him becoming more or less socially awkward. It did not make any difference that many talked over his mind as they experienced him as this mathematical genius, which they had difficulty interacting with.
Vitalik drew more and more away from social contexts in his early teens when this time was especially marked by the fact that he sat in front of the computer. to explore the internet. But like many other peers, Vitalik also used tons of time playing World of Warcraft.
It was also all the while he played World of Warcraft that Vitalik first saw how centralized programs could act negatively. This was because his characters in the game changed characteristics during a World of Warcraft update. It did not fall well with Vitalik. It impacted him so badly that he never played World of Warcraft again.
He started at Aberald School – a private high school in Toronto, whose place had a major impact on Vitalik. Vitalik himself described his time at Aberald School as the best years of his life, as they changed his view of the way in which he wanted to live his life as well as his attitude.
Vitalik discovers Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies
It was originally Vitalik’s father who introduced him to Bitcoin back in 2011. At that time, the father had a software company through which he had heard about Bitcoin. A company that the father sold after just a few years, sold to focus on Blockchain technology, like Vitalik.
Vitalik did not find interest in either Bitcoin or Blockchain technology immediately. However, the decentralized element at both Bitcoin and Blockchain began to attract more and more attention from Vitalik over time. This led Vitalik to research more and more, resulting in a real interest from the then 17-year-old boy.
Vitalik became a larger and larger component of the online community around Bitcoin as well as cryptocurrencies in general. Since Vitalik did not have the money to buy Bitcoins, he made an agreement with a Bitcoin blog that he would get paid 5 Bitcoins for every article he wrote to the media. This was at the time a considerably low pay considering the fact that the value of Bitcoin at that time was just $0.8, although the sum might sound extreme if you compare it to Bitcoins current value.
Later in late 2011, Vitalik Buterin started the Bitcoin Magazine with a novelist, Mihai Alisie. Bitcoin Magazine was (and still is) one of the largest online media outlets dedicated to Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies. In the next few years, Vitalik split his time between the university, part-time job as research assistant and editor of Bitcoin Magazine.
In May 2013, Vitalik flies to San Jose, California, to attend a Bitcoin fair in Bitcoin Magazine. Here, Vitalik experiences for the first time that it is not only online that there is a community that is interested in Bitcoin, Blockchain and Cryptovaluta. But that makes sense also exists. Experiencing this results in an additional interest in Vitalik.
Vitalik on the way: from Canada around the world
In 2013, Vitalik chooses to drop out of the university to experience the world – and not least; experience Bitcoin as well as crypto-based companies around the world.
Here, Vitalik is traveling around the world – and experiencing a host of companies that work with cryptocurrencies, which further inspire and motivates Vitalik.
It is also during this long-term trip, that Vitalik gets the idea for Ethereum. During a trip in Israel, he meets two companies trying to do something similar to what Vitalik later tries with Ethereum. They tried to issue tokens and smart contracts – directly on Blockchain belonging to Bitcoin. It would allow financial contracts, etc. directly on the backbone of Bitcoin.
Vitalik begins to wonder if you could not make it smarter than doing it directly on Bitcoins Blockchain. To make a long story short; to create a new cryptocurrency whose only purpose is to promote development platforms for new cryptocurrencies, smart contracts and tokens.
He told his idea to the two Israeli companies – but none of them found it particularly interesting. Vitalik, therefore, decided to take the case on his own.
Ethereum’s white paper
By the end of 2013, Vitalik Buterin published a white paper explaining the basic idea behind project Ethereum. He sent it to a couple of his closest friends, after which they forwarded it to some of their acquaintances. All in all, his white paper came into the hands of a handful of people.
Some of the friends and the other acquaintances found the project interesting, and some of them chose to take an active part in the development of Ethereum.
“When I came to the idea with Ethereum, my first thought was:” Okay, it’s too good to be true. “As it later became apparent, the core idea behind Ethereum was good.”
Vitalik Buterin and the other members of the project published official Ethereum and how they intended Ethereum to work in January 2014.
Soon after, Vitalik Buterin and the remaining team chose to move to Zug in Switzerland, which later became known as Crypto Valley. Zug is still home to the Ethereum Foundation, which is the non-profit organization officially responsible for the development of Ethereum and its open source software.
At that time, when Ethereum had just moved to Zug – the team had little money to run for the project. They had attached a paper to the front door, where they wrote that one should be more than welcome to sponsor a cup of coffee. This is what Niklas Nikolajsen (founder of Bitcoin Suisse) who looked at the sidelines and advised Ethereum, previously explained.
From Zug in Switzerland later in 2014, Ethereum raised approximately 31,000 Bitcoins during its ICO (initial coin offering) which at that time was equivalent to 18,3 million USD.
The great amount that Ethereum raised made Ethereum the third biggest ICO raise worldwide at that time.
From numerous mistakes to success
Over the next year, Vitalik Buterin – and not least the team struggled to complete Ethereum. It was not immediately a natural process as they encountered numerous challenges with the project.
They attempted to undergo several prototypes that tried to do what they wanted. The last prototype was named; “Olympic” – and was technologically closest to what we today know as being Ethereum. This prototype also resulted in the first public beta test in which Vitalik Buterin released the prototype so that everyone around the world could test the network.
The prototype was still packed with numerous bugs, which resulted in Ethereum launching a reward program where one could get paid Ether if one (or more) bugs found. This corresponds to, for example, Google or Facebook which also is giving away money if you find weaknesses in their systems as hackers. Ethereum’s reward program is still in operation today.
On July 30, 2015 – Ethereum was officially launched, and the cryptocurrency was officially out of its beta. However, it was still a launch that was filled with bugs, which it was still considered a test. Over the next couple of months, Vitalik and the remaining team continued running Ethereum with the help of its community.
In 2016 – March 14, 2016 – Ethereum released an update, which was later considered its official launch. The update gave developers around the world greater freedom and a platform to create decentralized applications, tokens, smarts contracts, etc. on the Ethereum platform than they had before.
Vitalik Buterin and Ethereum – now
Ethereum is in the time of writing the worlds 2nd largest cryptocurrency measured at market value.
Ethereum is being used by thousands of applications, both developers and companies around the world – and has gradually created a supreme name in the crypto world. Back in March 2017, an alliance around Ethereum was established, aimed at researching, learning and exchanging knowledge about Ethereum technology in connection with highly complex applications across many industries. The alliance is called Enterprise Ethereum Alliance – and has over 500 members. The members include renowned companies like Microsoft, MasterCard, Intel, and Ernst & Young.
Ethereum is not perfect – yet. Ethereum continues to suffer wit scaling problems that make the cryptocurrency difficult to scale when additional network pressures occur. Developers around the world, as well as Ethereum Foundation, continue to make Ethereum better, more secure and more scalable, why updates are being updated to the network. One can, therefore, expect Ethereum to become better and better for each day.
Vitalik Buterin, on the other hand, moved from Zug to Singapore, where he heads the Asian division of the Ethereum Foundation. He still uses huge amounts of his time at Ethereum. He hopes, however, that in the future he can take a little away from the development of Ethereum in order to focus on other things related to Ethereum.
Although Vitalik has not been alone in making Ethereum, he has been a very big part of the project. In addition, he has always been the front figure outside, like Steve Jobs was for Apple. It is in stark contrast to Bitcoin, where there has never been a true front figure since no-one knows the identity of Satoshi Nakamoto.
Vitalik Buterin is undoubtedly outstanding, both regarding his intelligence, but also his beliefs in cryptographic currencies. Nobody knows how the development will go over the next couple of years, but it would not be surprising if it keeps moving the cryptocurrency industry forward as it has so far.