Ethereum runs smart contracts on a decentralized platform. Ethereum contracts are apps that run just as they were intended to with no chance of succumbing to downtime, censorship, fraud or third-party meddling. Under Ethereum each operation comes at a price though, which means that for anything to be transferred or executed by the network, you have to use Ethereum’s coin, Ether. This pays for your computing time and transaction fees.
As with other networks, miners are paid in block rewards, either on their own machines or through a more expensive but more convenient mining contract.
Ethereum lets you run your code and keep your contacts so long as you have enough funds to pay for them.
Ethereum was released in 2014, funded by enthusiastic users from all over the world. It was developed and is still maintained by ETHDEV and other developers who want to be involved. There is an Ethereum foundation and numerous startups use the Ethereum blockchain in their ventures.
Ethereum has named stages for its development, and it’s currently said to be at the "Homestead" stage, which means that all the software relating to it is in Beta. This will be the case until it reaches the "Metropolis" stage of its life.
Ethereum Wallet DApp offers a good GUI interface for user wallets, but it’s still under development so should be used with some degree of caution.