By: Liibaan Yusuf
Vitalik Buterin, is a 28-year-old Russian programmer and crypto pioneer. Born in Kolomna, Russia in 1994, to two Russian parents; his father a computer scientist and a stay-at-home mother. The family of three did not stay in Russia for long, moving to Canada by 2000. Vitalik doesn’t speak much about his short stay in Russia.
Vitalik was educated in Canada. His teachers placed him into gifted classes by third grade, as he excelled in school and flew past his peers. He attended Abelard, a prestigious high school for the gifted, in Toronto.
Vitalik learned about Bitcoin and cryptocurrency from his father during his junior year of high school.
After high school, Vitalik attended the University of Waterloo, earning a $100,000 dollar scholarship. There he worked with Ian Goldberg, his mentor, to receive his Bachelors in Computer Science.
From 2011 and on, Vitalik was given the opportunity to work with ‘Bitcoin Weekly’ for a little side income. ‘Bitcoin Weekly’ was a weekly published magazine which wrote about bitcoin and cryptocurrency in the early days. During the early 2010’s Vitalik was paid approximately 5 bitcoins per article written, about $3.50 cents each, or $208,230 today! The magazine fell through months later though, as it wasn’t generating enough income to sustain itself.
Although Vitaliks work at ‘Bitcoin Weekly’ was cut short, he used that opportunity to network and meet with others, like Jed McCaleb, the CTO of Ripple. Ripple is the company behind XRP. Unlike crypto currencies like bitcoin, where a “Proof-of-work” is used to give value to the currency, Ripple is a tech company that made their own proprietary technology, using XRP as their own currency on that technology. Most people don’t actually care about the technology though, and use crypto as a “get rich quick” scheme, which is very dangerous.
Vitalik used his connection with McCaleb and landed a high level programming job at Ripple, though he was unable to ever start since his US Visa application was denied.
Soon after, in early 2013, Vitalik had come up with Ethereum, his own technology, like Ripple, and the sponsored currency, Ether.
Ethereum is described as “A decentralized mining network and software development platform rolled into one”. Vitalik worked on Ethereum for a year before unveiling it at the North American Bitcoin Conference, held in Miami, during January of 2014.
At only 19 years old, Vitalik stood in front of thousands of people, his first time ever speaking to such a large group of people. He was supposed to speak about writing for ‘Bitcoin Weekly’, though he used his speech to speak about his own project, while wearing a black t-shirt with “ethereum.org” written in white lowercase letters. From there, Ethereum took off, going from a tiny community of programmers and academics to being a household name in the crypto community.
Vitalik has since been in a retirement-like state, traveling the world and giving speeches at different conferences and meetings around the world. He’s gone on record to say that he doesn’t enjoy the fame and created Ethereum to be a decentralized space, so he doesn’t feel like it’s right to be put on a pedestal.
As of April 18th, 2022, Vitalik has been honorably given Montenegrin citizenship, alongside Canadian and Russia citizenships as Montenegro hopes to become a “Crypto-Capitol”.