Ethereum Classic is a hard fork of Ethereum that was launched in 2016. It is a decentralised platform that runs smart contracts: applications that run exactly as programmed without any possibility of downtime, censorship, fraud, or third-party interference.
ETC is a continuation of the original Ethereum blockchain - the classic version preserving untampered history, free from external interference and subjective tampering of transactions.
The split occurred after the DAO, a venture capital fund built on Ethereum, got hacked in June 2016. The creators of ETC are the original founders of Ethereum- Vitalik Buterin and Gavin Wood.
Some of the Ethereum community decided to perform a hard fork to move the funds belonging to the DAO hacker into an account controlled by themselves. However, some members opposed this action and continued using the unforked version of Ethereum which is now known as Ethereum Classic.
Ethereum Classic's aim is to preserve the original Ethereum blockchain and use smart contracts to construct a blockchain based 'world computer' that will decentralise the existing client server model.
ETC has all features of Ethereum including Turing complete language for writing smart contracts, creation of tokens, decentralised exchange and plans for sharding.
Ethereum Classic has experimented with monetary policy and have decided that ETC should have a fixed supply of around 210 million coins, which are currently being distributed via the inflationary proof of work mining system.