The computer that NASA used for the Apollo program, which made humanity set its first steps on the moon in 1969, has gotten a new purpose. Computer tinkerer Ken Shirriff is using an old Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC) to mine bitcoin. But it won’t make him any serious money, because the hash rate is far too low.
Shirriff tweeted about his creation, and said that it takes 10.3 seconds per hash. In his words, to mine one block it would take ‘a billion times the age of the universe’. To which he added, it would still be faster than mining by hand or punching cards. Yet, it’s still a fine experiment!
Simple bitcoin mining USB sticks that cost around 70~80 dollars produce more than 130 billion hashes per second. The Apollo Guidance Computer cost $150.000, back when it was being used in the 1960s, and doesn’t even come close. Computing power has increased so much in only five decades. We aren’t even comparing the AGC with a dedicated bitcoin mining machine from Bitmain or any of the other manufacturers.
Bitcoin mining increasingly popular again
Bitcoin mining is currently at an all-time high with its difficulty. Mining difficulty is now set at 9.06 trillion, which is an increase of more than 14 percent compared with 2 weeks ago. Approximately every two weeks, or every 2016 blocks mined, the difficulty adjusts to the amount of mining power in the network. As more miners join the blockchain, chasing those valuable bitcoins, the higher the difficulty becomes and the more powerful a mining computer needs to be to have a chance to win the rewards.
The total computing power of the entire bitcoin network is ridiculous, especially when compared with the Apollo Guidance Computer. Where the AGC produces 1 hash every 10.3 seconds, the Bitcoin network does 74.5 quintillion hashes per second. That’s 74.500.000.000.000.000.000 calculations per second!
Also published on Medium.