I’ve been geeking out about Ethereum. There’s a lot of hype around it, tons of background knowledge required to understand the space and some good critiques of what’s happening as of late.

But I want to keep this simple. Why should you, a reader of this blog and non-computer-nerd-human, care about Ethereum? I’ll send you some ETH to show you.

What is Ethereum?

Ethereum is a blockchain technology (like Bitcoin) that has a turning complete programming language built into it. This means that one can write what Bitcoin is in a few standardized lines of code. It also means that programs can run, and can be trusted, in a decentralized manner on the blockchain.

An exciting element of this technology has been the recent spike in the value of ETH, the token that powers Ethereum. Companies are creating their own tokens to fundraise millions of dollars in ETH for their projects.

You can set up a wallet and start to receive ETH right now in 5 minutes. As of this writing, 1 ETH is valued at around $200. If I personally know you, I’ll even send you enough ETH to do something cool.

How To Create an ETH wallet

We’ll be using MyEtherWallet (MEW) to create a secure wallet you can use to send and receive ETH. This is an open source project to interact with the Ethereum Blockchain right in your browser. When you use MEW, the information doesn’t go to one server, like the rest of the internet does. Instead, it is posted to the blockchain with some Web3.js magic.

Here’s how you can get started.

1. Go to MyEtherWallet.com

2. Generate a wallet.

Think of a strong password, like the the last 10 words of your favorite song. You will need to remember it.

3. Download the keystore file and put it in a safe place.

This file is half of your password. You understand this, of course.

4. MEW will use your password to generate a unique private and public key.

This is fundamental feature of Ethereum. You have a public facing, unique address that anyone can send tokens to. Only if you have the private key can you access the power to send ETH from that address. Your actual password, from which these keys originate, is the second half of your password on MyEtherWallet.

I suggest printing a paper wallet and saving it somewhere secure.  The wallet has no funds right now, so there’s nothing to worry about. It should look like this:

5. You can now unlock your wallet with the keystore file and password

This allows you to see your account information. Just like that, we’ve essentially created a bank account at a public address that can send and receive funds.

6. Send Ether?

We could now send ETH by clicking “Send Ether”, unlocking our wallet and entering the target address. That address could be a person or a smart contract. Public addresses all start with “0x”. We don’t have any Ether yet. Let’s fix that!

7. Post your account address in the comments below

Post your public address (the one starting with 0x) along with your name and a comment. I may send you enough ETH to register an ENS address. The ENS registrar is a cool project, also accessible in MyEtherWallet, which allows users to bid on “.eth” names. Something like “lucas.eth” would map to this public address I just created – “0x8BBAf4408c9937e9B83Ff101a288aE67Ca59c0dD”. It’s much easier to remember, and is akin to allowing folks to use domain names (google.com) instead of pasting in IP addresses. 

The movement of ETH between accounts is all publicly available on EtherScan.io. That’s the link for the address I just made.

What’s Next?

There is so much more to learn. The apps that run on Ethereum, like the ENS registration, are called Ðapps. They are written in Solidity, which is a language for writing smart contracts.

I’m not your financial advisor, so don’t take what I say as investment advice. But Ethereum shows a lot of potential. If you’d like to buy some, I suggest getting an account at CoinBase.com and letting them securely manage the buying and selling of ETH. They have a good article to start you off : What is Ethereum? Don’t worry about other tokens and don’t confuse ETC with ETH.

As for me, I’m writing my first Ðapp after learning all the good things at Decypher.tv. The future looks bright.

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