Bitcoin is a digital asset and a payment system invented by Satoshi Nakamoto who published a related paper in 2008 and released it as open-source software in 2009. The system featured as peer-to-peer; users can transact directly without an intermediary. Transactions are verified by network nodes and recorded in a public distributed ledger called the blockchain. The ledger uses bitcoin as its unit of account. The system works without a central repository or single administrator, which has led the U.S. Treasury to categorize bitcoin as a decentralized virtual currency. Bitcoin is often called the first cryptocurrency, although prior systems existed. Bitcoin is more correctly described as the first decentralized digital currency. It is the largest of its kind in terms of total market value by now.
Ethereum is a decentralized platform that runs smart contracts: applications that run exactly as programmed without any possibility of downtime, censorship, fraud or third party interference. These apps run on a custom built blockchain, an enormously powerful shared global infrastructure that can move value around and represent the ownership of property. This enables developers to create markets, store registries of debts or promises, move funds in accordance with instructions given long in the past (like a will or a futures contract) and many other things that have not been invented yet, all without a middle man or counterparty risk. The project was bootstrapped via an ether presale in August 2014 by fans all around the world. It is developed by the Ethereum Foundation, a Swiss nonprofit, with contributions from great minds across the globe.
Litecoin is a peer-to-peer Internet currency that enables instant, near-zero cost payments to anyone in the world. Litecoin is an open source, global payment network that is fully decentralized without any central authorities. Mathematics secures the network and empowers individuals to control their own finances. Litecoin features faster transaction confirmation times and improved s torage efficiency than the leading math-based currency. With substantial industry support, trade volume and liquidity, Litecoin is a proven medium of commerce complementary to Bitcoin.
Litecoin was released via an open-source client on GitHub on October 7, 2011 by Charlie Lee, a former Google employee. The Litecoin network went live on October 13, 2011. It was a fork of the Bitcoin Core client, differing primarily by having a decreased block generation time (2.5 minutes), increased maximum number of coins, different hashing algorithm (scrypt, instead of SHA-256), and a slightly modified GUI.
Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is hard fork (a community-activated update to the protocol or code) of Bitcoin that took effect on August 1st, 2017 that increased the block size to 8MB, to help the scale the underlying technology of Bitcoin.Nov 16th 2018: BCH was hard forked again and split into Bitcoin SV and Bitcoin ABC. Bitcoin ABC became the dominant chain and took over the BCH ticker as it had more hashpower and majority of the nodes in the network.