Fifty years ago, man first set foot on the moon in an incredible triumph of ingenuity against the odds.
It’s a difficult enough feat today, considering we haven’t been back since the early 1970s when computing power was less advanced than the innards of a smart toaster (ironically, one of the dumbest devices ever invented).
Reverse engineering specialist Ken Shirriff has detailed on his blog how he worked out a code that enabled him to mine Bitcoin on the world’s only remaining Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC).
Invented at a time when most computers took up most of a room, the 15 bit AGC was surprisingly small and light and had performance similar to an Apple II.
Still, that’s not saying much. It can perform about 40,000 additions per second and has a woefully small amount of memory.
Equivalent to 72kb today, every single 1 and 0 in the memory was literally woven by hand – sewn into the computer by women from a textile factory over the course of eight weeks.
Shirriff wrote software on his laptop and loaded it into the AGC using a test connector originally used by the monitor.
He discovered that it’s certainly possible to mine Bitcoin on the AGC, but it takes a while. The computer takes 10.3 seconds per hash.
That’s faster than some other ‘absurd’ Bitcoin mining experiments Shirriff has conducted.
It’s faster than mining by hand with pencil and paper which resulted in a hash rate of 0.67 hashes per day.
It’s also better than an IBM mainframe that used punch cards from the early 1960s that had a hash rate of 80 seconds per day.
But it’s not quite as good as the 1973 Xerox Alto (which inspired the Macintosh) which managed 1.5 hashes per second.
Shirriff points out that if NASA had devoted its energies to mining Bitcoin, it could have paid for the $150 billion cost of sending a man to the moon, given a BTC market cap over $200 billion.
There’s just one slight hitch.
“Unfortunately, the computer is so slow that it would take about a million times the age of the universe to successfully mine a Bitcoin block.”
WATCH: Apollo Guidance Computer mining Bitcoin
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