Ethereum is an advanced type of blockchain. In comparison to Bitcoin, it is not only an immutable ledger for record keeping and transactions, it is also a distributed computing platform. Ethereum can be used as an operating system with functionalities such as self-executing smart contracts. This added functionality allows Ethereum developers to create decentralized applications running on top of the Ethereum network.
Ether is the cryptocurrency of the Ethereum blockchain. It can be used to pay for services within the decentralized application network. Additionally, anyone can create their own token on top of the Ethereum infrastructure. New Ether is being created in a process called mining. A miner validates transactions and therefore receives new Ether.
In 2013 Vitalik Buterin proposed the outline for the technology behind Ethereum. One year later the project’s development was financed through a crowd sale and went live the year later.