ONE OF mankind's greatest technological achievements has been repurposed to mine for Bitcoin.
The Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC) was instrumental in getting man to the moon, fifty years ago next week and broke the mould by offering something small enough to fit in the command module at a time when a computer could take up an entire room.
Weighing in at around 32kg, it was one of the first to use integrated circuits, vital for making it light enough to even take off.
Historians with a weird sense of humour have now managed to get hold of one such AGC (many were made that went nowhere near the moon, too) and have set about programming it to mine for cryptocurrency - a concept that would have seemed even madder than landing on the moon, at the time.
Of course, the chances of making it rich this way are zero, unless you have a lot of time on your hands - Apollo's compute power was about that of a mobile phone, and as a mobile phone, it would take millennia to get even one bitcoin mined.
In fact, it takes AGC about 10 seconds to calculate a single hash value - and each Bitcoin can take trillions sometimes even trillions of trillions of hash values. That's why it's taking the same amount of electricity as Switzerland to mine cryptocurrency, worldwide.
A dedicated Bitcoin computer can calculate trillions of hashes per second, and even then it's not an instant licence to print money.
Compare that with the AGC. The historians who reprogrammed the weird 15-bit architecture estimate that it would take one billion times the age of the universe for it to calculate a single Bitcoin.
Probably not a good value proposition for funding NASA's future then. But a cool little project, so close to the 50th anniversary of the moon landings, nevertheless. µ
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