Computer from NASA’s Apollo program reprogrammed to mine bitcoin

DSKY unit of the Apollo Guidance Computer in the National Air and Space Museum. Shirriff used a different unit that belongs to a private collector.

Enlarge / DSKY unit of the
Apollo Guidance Computer in the National Air and Space Museum.
Shirriff used a different unit that belongs to a private collector.
(credit:
Tamorlan
)

Among the many technological breakthroughs of NASA’s Apollo
project to land a man on the Moon was the Apollo Guidance Computer
that flew onboard Apollo spacecraft. In an era when most computers
were refrigerator-sized—if not room-sized—the AGC weighed only
about 70 pounds. It was one of the first computers to use
integrated circuits.

A team of computer historians
got its hands
 on one of the original AGCs and got it working.
A member of the team, Ken Shirriff, then decided to see if the
computer could be
used for bitcoin mining
.

Mining is a key part of the process for maintaining bitcoin’s
shared transaction ledger, or blockchain. To win the right to add a
block to the blockchain, you have to solve a difficult problem:
finding a block whose SHA-256 hash starts with a minimum number of
zeros. The only known way to accomplish this is by brute force:
miners create a block with a random nonce and compute its hash
value. If the hash value doesn’t have enough leading zeros, the
miner changes the nonce and tries again.

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Source: FS – All – Science – News
Computer from NASA’s Apollo program reprogrammed to mine bitcoin