I read a ton online about blockchain and cryptocurrencies all the time, and over the past several months feel that I've built up a fairly solid knowledge base on which to assess opportunities in the space. But, as I do not have a computer programming background (I'm a tax lawyer), there are often technical things I come across that are a struggle to grasp at first blush.
This was the case when I first started trying to understand just what the heck Ethereum is, and why it stands out from Bitcoin as something more than just a digital currency. You can find a LOT of content online about the Ethereum project, and YouTube videos, etc., but most of it was made by techies for techies. We don't all speak the language.
However, I just came across a post on Reddit by u/Mirrory that is probably the best and most succinct description of Ethereum I've seen written specifically for non-technical folks. It's still somewhat technical -- and has to be since, after all, we're talking about a new, revolutionary technology. But it's a great starting point for anyone wanting to understand some of the main innovations at the core of Ethereum. Here it is:
As high level and as layman like as I can make it:
Now say if your code used memory, like having a number field in the web page and then displaying double that number, you would have to send data to that smart contract and it would store the data in memory, then do work with it and finally output the result. The parts that cost gas are the storing and doing. Now say if the user wants to recall the calculation they made a minute ago, or submits the exact same number as before. They can do this without needing to resubmit to the contract, all history is stored within the blockchain. That previous transaction will be recorded there forever. So as more things are done on the blockchain, the more efficient computing becomes. You only have to calculate or do the thing once. And never have to waste precious CPU time again. You can simply recall that previous transaction. Never before with computing has something like this even been possible, and for us tech guys the concept is just mind blowing. It has so many applications and will completely disrupt and overthrow big cloud providers today. We're talking slashing IT operating costs by 90%. In the applications I have developed for it, I was able to make websites that would normally cost $120 a month to host down to just a single one time cost of $0.12 to host static content and $7 a month for the rest. It's like watching the rise of the internet all over again for those 'in the know'.
Next time you buy Ethereum, or sell it - remember what you're actually trading. Bitcoin ain't got nothing on what Ethereum is about to become. And all those people who are just buying it for investment just don't know what the hell they're sitting on top of. If bitcoin is digital gold, Ethereum is digital black-gold. And you just accumulated it before the next industrial revolution.