Is Ethereum Vaporware?

In August 2014, the Ethereum team held a crowdsale of their blockchain's “crypto fuel,” Ether, and received US$18 million in bitcoins in return. Buyers were told they could expect the network's first launch sometime in late 2014 or early 2015.

With eight months gone by since that crowdsale, some have begun to wonder: was Ethereum just vaporware?

But a glance at the Ethereum Github page (which was last updated only three hours ago) or a scan of the Ethereum blogroll (which is chock-full of regular and detailed updates) would suggest non-vaporware status.

Vinay Gupta is Ethereum's release coordinator. In a blog post entitled “The Ethereum Launch Process,” he says that the team is just not concerned with deadlines, writing:

“Because the network is valuable, and the network is only as secure as the software we provide, this is going to be a security-led not schedule-led process.”

Though the team seems to feel that they're far enough along in the “security-led” process to have modulated, named, and described each release stage.

  1. Frontier - The first stage will be usable through a computer's command-line only. It will allow mining at 10 % the normal rate, and contracts will be uploadable and executable. This is basically the time that people can begin to experiment with uploading their own DApps (decentralized applications) onto the network. Periodic “checkpoints” will also be performed by the Ethereum team to check network accuracy, causing a 12 hour latency period each day.
  2. Homestead - At this point, mining will be bumped up to 100 % the normal rate. Checkpoints may or may not be removed. Operation will still be in the command-line only.
  3. Metropolis – The third stage is when the user interfaces come out, including a DApp store, and non-technical users should feel comfortable joining at this point.
  4. Serenity – The fourth stage is where things are going to get fancy: the network is going to change its mining process from Proof-of-Work to Proof-of-Stake. Gupta writes:

Switching the network from Proof-of-Work to Proof-of-Stake is going to require a substantial switch, a transition process potentially much like the one between Frontier and Homestead. [] Proof-of-Work is a brutal waste of computing power.

The Ethereum team is also actively seeking paid input from outside programmers, both for bug bounties and through an incentive program called DEVGrants.

So Ethereum isn't vaporware. But for the crowdsale investors, that probably doesn't make the waiting any easier.

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