With the Ethereum Merge set to be the most significant upgrade ever — we took a look back at the most notable events in Ethereum's colorful history.
This is a comprehensive overview of Ethereum’s history; from its whitepaper publication in 2014 to the present day. But before we dive in, here’s a quick overview of what Ethereum is and how it works for those of you who aren’t familiar.
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What Is Ethereum?
Vitalik Buterin is a Russian-born programmer who emigrated to Canada as a child and later wrote Ethereum’s whitepaper and co-founded Ethereum. Ethereum’s other founders include Gavin Wood, who later founded Polkadot, Charles Hoskinson, the founder of Cardano, as well as Anthony Di Lorio and Joseph Lubin, who later launched Decentral and ConsenSys respectively.
What’s Ether (ETH)?
Now that you know a little bit about Ethereum, let’s dive into Ethereum’s history, starting with the network’s most recent and anticipated event: The Merge.
2022 Ethereum Key Events
January 26th, 2022. Ether Price: $2,468.03
February 2nd, 2022. Ether Price: $2,682.45
February 24th, 2022. Ether Price: $2,508.97
In the 24 hours after the invasion, more than $150bn was wiped from the cryptocurrency markets.
March 18th, 2022. Ether Price: $2,945.34
Buterin also warns of the danger to overeager investors, and of skyrocketing transaction fees and lavish displays of wealth that negatively influence the public’s perception of crypto: “The peril is you have these $3 million monkeys and it becomes a different kind of gambling,” in reference to the Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT collection.
In the same interview, Buterin voiced his support for real-world applications of blockchain technology, particularly projects related to voting systems and urban planning. He also claims too many crypto platforms focus on wealth creation: “If we don’t exercise our voice, the only things that get built are the things that are immediately profitable…and those are often far from what’s actually the best for the world.”
March 29th, 2022. Ether Price: $3,445.24
The largest hack in crypto history so far is confirmed as Ronin officials report that the network’s validator nodes for Sky Mavis – the company behind the P2E game Axie Infinity – had been exploited. Axie runs on Ethereum with help from Ronin, which is technically a sidechain or parallel network.
The hackers gained access to private keys and forged two fake withdrawals of 173,600 Ether and 25.5m USDC, jointly valued at the time at $625m. Over the month that followed, Ether’s value sank from $3,445.24 to $2,785.59, although the wider crypto market was enduring a bear run at the time so it’s not clear how much of this downturn was thanks to the Ronin hack.
April 12th, 2022. Ether Price: $2,998.6
The former Ethereum developer Virgil Griffith is sentenced to 63 months behind bars in a US prison and fined $100,000 after pleading guilty for aiding the North Korean state.
Griffith was arrested in November 2019 after delivering a presentation at a cryptocurrency conference in which he explained how Kim Jong-un’s regime could circumvent US sanctions using crypto. The conference had dozens of North Korean officials in attendance.
April 21st, 2022. Ether Price: $3,146.45
Twitter founder Jack Dorsey unleashes scathing criticism of Ethereum, saying it has “many single points of failure,” and that many projects on Ethereum are “not interesting.” This criticism follows Dorsey’s earlier comments criticizing the Web3 space for being too reliant on venture capital funding and for not being owned by “the people.”
April 30th, 2022. Ether Price: $2,820.08
Yuga Labs, the crypto company behind the Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT collection, kicks off a huge sale of 200,000 plots of virtual land. 55,000 plots were sold for 305 ApeCoin – worth $8,500 at the time – during the first day via the Ethereum blockchain.
These weren’t even the highest fees paid because on Ethereum, you can always pay a higher fee to bump your transaction to the front of the queue. However, if you don’t have enough in gas fees, your transaction doesn’t go through, but you still have to pay the gas fees, which led to some people paying thousands of dollars in gas fees for transactions that didn’t go through.
May 1st, 2022. Ether Price: $2,807.64
The Wikipedia foundation, which accepted Bitcoin and Ethereum donations via BitPay since 2014, announces it is discontinuing the crypto donations. The decision followed a three-month discussion that wrapped up at the end of April with a poll in which 70% of respondents said they wanted to discontinue all cryptocurrency donations. It was later revealed that just 0.08% of Wikipedia’s revenue comes from crypto, and the foundation had never held any crypto.
May 8th, 2022. Ether Price: $2,549.94
Following some rumors that spread earlier in the year, Meta’s Instagram announces it will support NFTs from Ethereum, and that users won’t have to pay to display their NFT artworks as they initially did on Twitter. It was suggested at the time that NFTs could enjoy a second wind once the update goes live as a billion Instagrammers create and share their own NFTs.
May 9th, 2022. Ether Price: $2,509.45
The Terra Network, led by South Korean developer Do Kwon, officially collapses. Its algorithmic stablecoin, UST, slips from its $1 peg after someone swaps $85m UST for USDC, another stablecoin. Terra’s companion token Luna – designed to balance the UST stablecoin – crashed 96% in the following 24 hours.
Following Terra’s collapse, the crypto markets crashed, and Ether sank from $2,517 to $1,807 in 72 hours.
May 20th, 2022. Ether Price: $2,026.21
The crypto community dusts off its tiniest violin and plays a melancholy tune for Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin who announces that following the recent crypto crash, he’s no longer a billionaire. He did however clarify that he and other people “deep in crypto” actually welcome a bear market and cheaper digital coins.
June 1st, 2022. Ether Price: $1,930.97
June 8th, 2022. Ether Price: $1,801.60
Hollywood actor Anthony Hopkins reveals on Twitter he had recently bought an ENS domain name for a crypto wallet. This is a common move in the NFT and crypto community, but less so amongst the Hollywood elite.
June 13th, 2022. Ether Price: $1,127.21
Goldman Sachs starts trading an Ethereum derivative called non-deliverable forwards, which pays out in cash based on Ether’s price movements. This new derivative gives institutional investors exposure to Ether without holding it directly.
Goldman's new foray into crypto marked another step toward crypto adoption in the institutional banking sector.
June 15th, 2022. Ether Price: $1,103.69
Cuban later told Fortune that “Disruptive applications and technology released during a bear market, whether stocks or crypto or any business, will always find a market and succeed.”
June 16th, 2022: Ether Price:
June 18th, 2022: Ether Price: $896.11
Ethereum drops to $896.11 – its lowest price in years.
June 21st, 2022: Ether Price: $1,129.72
Ethereum developers announce the Sepolia testnet (which will eventually replace the Ropsten testnet) will soon undergo a trial run of the Merge, setting the stage for the real thing.
Testnets like Sepolia are designed to imitate the operating conditions of mainnets – Ethereum in this case – without risking damage to the mainnet itself.
June 23rd, 2022. Ether Price: $1,115.98
Harmony, a layer-1 Ethereum blockchain, is hacked. The Harmony team reports that at 5:30pm PST, through a sequence of eleven transactions, hackers stole approximately $100m in Ether from their bridge, Horizon. The bridge was designed for fast, low-cost transactions between different blockchains like Ethereum, Binance, and Bitcoin.
June 30th, 2022. Ether Price: $1,087.91
Ethereum developers announce more delays to the Merge while they carry out further testing. They suggest September as the likeliest estimate for the long-awaited update.
In order to do this, the developers had to push back the difficulty bomb; an update which significantly increases the complexity of PoW calculations and therefore the time it takes for miners to process transactions.
The difficulty bomb was designed to incentivise the community to accelerate the transition to a more environmentally friendly model via the Merge. But if it goes off too long before the Merge, transactions on Ethereum would slow down considerably, hence why it was pushed back.
Whenever the developers push back the difficulty bomb, a network update must take place. This one was called Gray Glacier. This delay announcement was met with considerable huffing and puffing since this wasn’t the first time the devs had pushed back the difficulty bomb and delayed the Merge.
July 3&4th, 2022: Ether Price: $1,094.57
The Ethereum Name Service (ENS) enjoys a surge of registrations over the first weekend of July 2022. There were 64,000 .eth names generated on Sunday and Monday alone, and more than 108,000 over the previous week.
The ENS issues and renews .eth domain names on Ethereum. These domain names are sold as NFTs and link to individual cryptocurrency wallets. Once you own an ENS domain name, you can renew it forever or sell it to someone else. As such, some of the more interesting domain names have sold for considerable sums of money. For instance, 000.eth sold for 300 Ether, a sum worth $344,000 at the time.
July 12th, 2022. Ether Price: $1,056.99
A sophisticated phishing campaign allows hackers to steal 7,573.94 Ether – worth $8m at the time – from 74,000 Uniswap users. The hackers set up a fraudulent airdrop which they claimed would provide 400 free UNI tokens to users who connect their wallets to specific smart contracts.
But when the users connected their wallets to the smart contract, hackers gained access to their liquidity pool (LP) tokens, which represent their liquidity on Uniswap, and could spend them on the user’ behalf. The hackers withdrew the liquidity from Uniswap in Ether and moved the stolen funds through Tornado Cash – the crypto mixer.
It was later pointed out that the fraudulent smart contract wasn’t verified - a major red flag that many victims unfortunately failed to notice.
July 26th, 2022. Ether Price: $1,367.32
July 27th, 2022. Ether Price: $1,625.39
July 28th, 2022. Ether Price: $1,613.80
July 29th, 2022. Ether Price: $1,737.72
The city of Miami announces plans to launch 5,000 Ethereum NFTs later in 2022. Miami’s Mayor Francis X Suarez is a famed crypto fanatic, and this latest foray is another stage in his roadmap to turn Miami into a hub of crypto innovation.
July 31st, 2022: Ether Price: $1,700.16
August 7th, 2022: Ether Price: $1705.72
Each Uncle Maker attack involved changing timestamps for mined blocks to avoid increased difficulty on the network. The exploit allowed malicious miners to create new “Uncle” blocks which are removed from the blockchain but are nevertheless valid and still receive rewards. And each time an Uncle Maker attack occurred; another miner lost all their transaction fees.
August 8th, 2022. Ether Price: $1,795.22
In a highly controversial move, the US Treasury Department puts the Tornado Cash mixing service on the Specially Designated Nationals list, which bans American citizens from using it or transacting with any of its associated crypto addresses.
Tornado, which sits on the Ethereum blockchain, pools together cryptocurrency deposited by different users which lets users swap their cryptocurrency privately and without leaving a trail. When a user deposits currency into the protocol, they can withdraw it to multiple wallets over several days or weeks in different currencies to hide their identity.
According to the Treasury, Tornado has laundered more than $7bn in crypto since launching in 2019, although what percentage of this sum was illegally obtained isn’t clear; estimates suggest about $1.5bn.
August 9th, 2022. Ether Price: $1,687.61
The sender’s true motive isn’t known, but they probably wanted to implicate innocents in the Tornado mess as a way of protesting against the sanctions and frustrating the regulators.
The recipients include Coinbase CEO Brian Fuller, TV host Jimmy Fallon, digital artist Beeple, comedian Dave Chappelle, as well as a wallet for donating to the Ukrainian war effort. Each of the recipients received about 0.1 Ether, worth about $170 on the day.
August 18th, 2022. Ether Price: $1,873.41
Ether’s price recovers to more than double its low of $896.11 in June, just two months previously, massively outperforming Bitcoin and most other cryptocurrencies.
August 24th, 2022. Ether Price: $1,641.49
Once the Merge completes, the network’s energy expenditure will shrink by approximately 99.95%, and miners will be replaced by validators who, rather than mine new Ethereum using expensive equipment, will stake Ether to the blockchain and validate new blocks in exchange for a cut of the fees. These validators’ staked Ether is held as a bond to guarantee they validate transactions honestly.
Besides improving the network’s energy efficiency, the Merge is expected to bring a host of additional benefits to Ethereum by laying the groundwork for further updates. These include update EIP-4844, which is planned for some time in 2023 and which will improve Ethereum’s scalability by facilitating the deployment of sharding – a technical feature that splits the blockchain horizontally to spread out its workload. It is also expected to boost Ethereum’s Layer 2 rollups’ scalability by up to 100 times and thereby lower the network’s fees considerably.
Another expected change to Ethereum following a successful merge is less Ether entering the market over time. Some estimates suggest annual Ether issuance will drop from 5.5m to 0.6m Ether, or by about 90%. Some estimates even suggest Ether could eventually become a deflationary cryptocurrency.
September 6th, 2022. Ether Price: $1,665.
Once the Merge completes, the Beacon Chain will be responsible for creating new blocks and rewarding validators with Ether in exchange for ensuring those blocks are valid. This means Ethereum will no longer rely on miners to validate transactions on the network.
As soon as the TTD is reached, a Beacon Chain validator will produce a block for the first time. Once Beacon finalizes that block, which will take about 13 minutes, the Merge will be considered complete.