Looking back in 2010, only a few people at that time knew what Bitcoin meant and even when some people got to know about it, they considered it as a kind of Ponzi scheme.
After the success story of Bitcoin, many other peer-to-peer digital currencies have emerged in an attempt to imitate that success. The word "altcoin" is an abbreviation of "Bitcoin alternative," and thus describes every single cryptocurrency, except for Bitcoin. Namecoin was the first altcoin created in April 2011. Similar to Bitcoin, there are a variety of ways to obtain altcoins.
To understand ethereum, it's better, to begin with understanding internet first. All our information, personal data, and passwords are stored in clouds and servers which companies like Facebook own. The convenience of this system lies in the fact that these companies engage a team of specialists who store and secure this data and eliminate the cost that comes with hosting and uptime.