Computer from NASA’s Apollo program reprogrammed to mine bitcoin

Computer from NASA’s Apollo program reprogrammed to mine bitcoin

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

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Archival footage, audio immerses viewers in Apollo: Missions to the Moon

Archival footage, audio immerses viewers in Apollo: Missions to the Moon

This year makes the 50th anniversary of the first manned lunar landing, so naturally we’re seeing a slew of films and TV series celebrating that milestone, like last year’s First Man biopic. The latest is a new documentary, APOLLO: Missions to the Moon, making its debut on the National Geographic Channel. Ars had the opportunity to sit down with filmmaker Tom Jennings and former NASA engineer Frances “Poppy” Northcutt back in June to talk about the making of the documentary, and revisit this pivotal moment in space history.

NASA’s Apollo space program is well-traveled ground in popular media, so Jennings faced quite the challenge in coming up with a fresh take with the material. Fortunately, this is also one of the most well-documented periods in 20th century history. The Emmy and Peabody Award-winning director

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