A brief history
Internet Computer (formerly called Dfinity) was founded in 2016 by Dominic Williams a computer scientist and theoretician. Internet Computer aims to create a new kind of decentralized internet with independent data centres all over the world joining together to create an alternative to centralized cloud services- building an alternative to the cloud services (from companies like Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud) that power most of the current internet. Internet Computer facilitates its applications via highly scalable smart contracts known as “canisters,” (computational units that are designed for internet-scale services). By deploying online services through canisters, the Internet Computer allows developers to build their services into the internet itself. The Internet Computer uses a governance system known as the Network Nervous System (NNS). The NNS manages the data centres that facilitate the internet and ensures that network tokens are distributed efficiently and democratically. Additionally, the Internet Computer platform uses a form of proof-of-stake (PoS) consensus, in conjunction with several additional verification layers designed to optimize the speed, scalability, and security of the network.
ICP in practice
ICP is a governance token used to stake, propose, and vote on measures via the NNS. ICP tokens are important because they can be converted to cycles that, in turn, are used to pay for resource consumption. Cycles reflect the real costs of operations for applications hosted in the Internet Computer blockchain including resources such as physical hardware, rack space, energy, storage devices, and bandwidth- but are notably not a currency and cannot be converted back to ICP. ICP can also be staked in a neuron (a container within the NNS holding staked ICP tokens). Once you stake your ICP, the neuron locks your tokens in and allows you to participate in governance matters. The more you vote, the more participation rewards you get. Additionally, if you don’t want to personally maintain a level of activity to reap rewards, you can delegate your ICP tokens to other, more active neurons.