A cryptocurrency is a median of exchange that uses cryptography to secure its transactions. The earliest form of this emerged around the 1980's with smartcards, which eventually transitioned into digital cash, and then cryptocurrency.
Bitcoin has recently surged into the spotlight of the finance world when its stock price reached a peak record of nearly $20,000. The cryptocurrency took over 1000 days to reach from a few cents to $1,000, but once it hit $2,000, it only took about 100 days to increase to over $5,000. This influx of price and investing in bitcoin brought more attention to rival cryptocurrencies, whose stock prices have also been on the rise.
Like bitcoin, Ethereum is a public blockchain network that differs in regards to purpose and capability. Bitcoin offers a simple peer to peer electronic cash system that allows for payments with bitcoin. With Ethereum, miners work to obtain Ether, which is a crypto token similar to that of bitcoin, but with Ethereum, there is much more versatility for the users and developers. Ethereum describes Ether as more of a fuel, however, that is used to pay for computation. Ethereum sells itself on the focus of running smart contracts on its decentralized platform. These smart contracts are self-operating computer programs that run exactly how they are programmed to run, without any possibility of censorship, downtime, fraud or third-party interference. This allows developers to create markets, store registries of debts or promises, and move funds with specific instructions given in the past (future contracts or wills). (Ethereum Project)
Ethereum also developed an Ethereum Wallet that allows access to the decentralized applications on the Ethereum blockchain. The purpose of the wallet is to hold and secure Ether and other crypto assets built on Ethereum, as well as write, launch and interact with smart contracts.
Ethereum aims to grow off bitcoin in a way that is different to developers. It offers a way to not only use cryptocurrency in a secure and unique way but allows developers to create and mine with their own personality.
Disclosure: I/we have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.