21 Bitcoin Computer: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

21 Bitcoin Computer

21 Bitcoin Computer: What Is It?

21 Bitcoin computer is a nice “tool” to learn Bitcoin mining and actually create something awesome. It’s a costly machine that is sold on Amazon for about $400.

Everyone is asking me, but what is Bitcoin mining? For those whose who still has this question, I prepared a detailed mining guide here and bitcoin mining hardware overview here. Please, read them first before continue reading.

So what is the 21 Bitcoin Computer? It’s a first computer with native hardware and software support for the Bitcoin protocol. This hardware will not make you rich but it’s a great tool to learn mining, mine small amounts of bitcoin for development purposes, quickly add Bitcoin-based monetization to any app, service, or device, buy and sell digital goods and services.

In order to use the 21 Bitcoin Computer, you need to connect it to the keyboard and monitor as a standalone Linux box, or plug it in to provide bitcoin over the Internet to any existing Mac, Windows, or Linux machine. After that you receive a stream of mined bitcoin to use at the command line and in your code. Now you can programmatically interact with the Bitcoin network.

21 Bitcoin Computer: Hashrate and Specs

The 21 Bitcoin Chip has an efficiency of approximately 0.16 Joules per Gigahash and arrives configured to calculate at a rate of approximately 50 Gigahashes per second.

It includes:

  • A command line interface and Python 3 library
  • A 128 GB SD card loaded with a full copy of the Blockchain
  • A suite of pre-configured Bitcoin-dependent software
  • All the items you need to get started – including a WiFi adapter, USB-to-laptop cable, and power supply

21 Bitcoin Computer: What People Are Building With It?

Joe Pickrell, junior group leader at the New York Genome Center and an adjunct assistant professor at Columbia University, is testing the 21 Bitcoin Computer to create a tool that  predicts phenotypes  and/or probabilities of disease from a VCF text file containing a gene sequence.

In order to make a prediction, you need to use a special command line tool that pulls a phenotype prediction model from an external server that hosts the model in JSON in exchange for BTC and then returns the prediction.

At the moment, the server only offers a model for predicting Alzheimer’s disease risk and there are lots of caveats to risk prediction. The intention of the project is rather as a “toy mode”.

Pickrell has another exciting project using 21BC – the tool will allow people to sell API calls to their genotypes and phenotypes.

Jeff Garzik, Bitcoin Core developer, currently previewed another interesting code based on 21’s computer – the tool may automate the delivery and inspection of work by multiple individuals, as well as assign payment for a job well done.

Garzik explain how the process works on his GitHub page as follow:

  • Supervisor submits an image, and a list of questions about an image. A minimum number of workers, and a bitcoin reward, is specified.
  • Workers download the image, answer the question(s), submit results.
  • API collects work. When X workers have submitted answers, they are compared for matches. The most matches – most accurate – workers receive the reward.

He also has another promising project based on 21BC, such as Causeway, a server storage service that stores and returns data for a certain amount of time, and accept updates if they are signed by a user’s payment address.

Justin Guy, entrepreneur and tech fan is aiming to use the 21BC to sell retweets on Twitter.

Another developer with the username ’21JD21′ has created a BitLink – Reddit-like link-sharing site built with the 21BC that charges users to post links, comment and up-vote or down-vote.

Andreas M Antonopoulos, bitcoin advocate, author and entrepreneur, shared his 21BC project on a GitHub too. His is creating a Wi-Fi captive portal that accepts bitcoin payments for Wi-Fi minutes.

If you are looking for more examples, read this article on Coindesk.

21 Bitcoin Computer: Is It Worth It?

Let’s admit, the machine is rather expensive and it probably won’t earn back the cost associated with buying and running it. Second, the 21 computer is pretty much similar to Raspberry Pi miner which is MUCH cheaper. As Amazon customer mentioned in the review here: “you could simply setup a Raspberry Pi with a nice case and a fan that does not rattle at a fraction of the cost using Minera and an AntMiner U3. Use PuTTY to SSH to the device and really learn something in the process using publicly available APIs.”

I partly agree with this him. If you only want to learn mining and you have enough space (!), you are not afraid of noise and heat, then you should probably go for cheap used Bitcoin miners that you can get for $60-$400.

But if you are a software developer interested in Bitcoin, then you should definitely buy 21 Bitcoin Computer. Another Amazon’s verified buyer confirms that: “21 Bitcoin Computer is the the easiest way to put API requests behind a bitcoin payment gateway. You can write a toy program that downloads a youtube video and returns an mp4 for a cost of 4000 satoshi. They have an off-chain micropayments infrastructure, making micropayments economically viable for the first time.”

This computer is a first “a plug and play” Bitcoin miner that is straightforward, accessible and understandable. If you don’t want to go crazy learning how to setup the Bitcoin mining hardware and software, that might be worth $400. To run this miner, you simple type “21 mine” and you are up and running.

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