Blockchain technology was invented when Bitcoin was released in 2009.
Since then there have been many different blockchains that have been created.
Blockchains are all about being on the same page as others. That's what makes them so efficient. It's powerful to have everyone in the world using the same system, looking at the same frame of reference.
Blockchains keep track of who owns what and transfers ownership. The Bitcoin blockchain keeps track of the bitcoin cryptocurrency and handles the transfer of bitcoins.
However almost ever since Bitcoin was invented, people have been wondering if you could transfer other things besides bitcoin.
If all you are doing is transferring ownership of *something*, does it matter what it is?
Keeping track of who owns what, houses, cars, money, stocks, bonds, baseball cards, co-op shares, rewards points, etc. is the foundation of our economic system.
That is the vision of Ethereum. Instead of having a blockchain like Bitcoin which is good for one thing, transferring bitcoins, you could have a system where you could trade anything.
Ethereum is a generalized blockchain platform, so in addition to sending its native cryptocurrency Ether just like Bitcoin, anyone can create assets that can be transferred in the same way.
The fact anyone is free to create assets to transfer on a blockchain platform is a remarkable thing.
Imagine startups selling their equity on a blockchain. 10 minute set up, almost no cost, global market access, without requiring anyone's permission. (SEC approval recommended)
Ethereum is basically like Bitcoin but instead of sending just Bitcoin, you can send anything, and create anything to be sent.
It takes the concept of Blockchain to its logical next step. Instead of keeping track of 1 thing, why not keep track of everything?