Cardano was founded in 2017 by co-founder and ex-CEO of Ethereum, Charles Hoskinson. He sought to create a platform that was scalable, sustainable and interoperable. Cardano has two infrastructural layers, the Cardano Settlement Layer (CSL) and the Cardano Computation Layer (CCL).
More specifically, the settlement layer is the ledger on which users transfer ADA between accounts, and where the transactions are recorded. The second layer, the computation layer, contains smart contracts and other information as to why transactions occur. It utilizes its own proof-of-stake (PoS) consensus algorithm called Ouroboros to secure the network and validate transactions.
The Cardano platform is maintained by three separate and independent organizations: the Cardano Foundation, Input Output HK (IOHK) and Emurgo. The Cardano Foundation is based in Switzerland and is responsible for supervising and overseeing the development of the Cardano ecosystem.
IOHK has put forward the team that designed and built Cardano, and importantly integrated Ouroboros, the proof-of-stake algorithm that is unique to Cardano. Finally, Emurgo is the company that helps organizations adopt Cardano’s decentralized blockchain by investing, advising and developing the integration of the blockchain into the company.