Apollo Guidance Computer Restored, Used to Mine Bitcoin

Some humans alternate the arena with the era, and some use technology to trade the sector. Some people discover approaches to mine Bitcoin on absolutely, without a doubt, antique computer systems. Ancient Computer Restorer and apparent Bitcoin programming fanatic Ken Shirriff has turned this into an addiction, having previously worked out a way to perform Bitcoin mining on a historical IBM 1401 and even worked out a method of performing BTC hashing with pencil and paper. Now, he’s taken on a new task — acting BTC calculations with an Apollo Guidance Computer.

There’s a cultural meme that makes the rounds about how the Apollo astronauts flew to the Moon and used less computing power than you’d normally locate in a present-day smartphone/smartwatch/NSA spy chip implanted in your mind. This is genuine, in a long way, because it is going. What it leaves out is that the AGC turned into virtually a fabulous feat of engineering, packing as much horsepower in its enclosure as an ordinary home gadget from a full decade later.


It became the first integrated circuit laptop, with a 16-bit phrase period (15 information bits, one parity bit) and a specialized read-best reminiscence circuit that stored software in what became called center rope reminiscence. The AGC contained 2,048 erasable magnetic center reminiscence phrases and 36 kilowords of examine-simplest core memory, with a cycle time of 11.72 microseconds. The AGC also had a numeric show and keyboard (the DSKY for show-and-keyboard) and 4 16-bit registers.

The AGC wasn’t speedy for its time; it became optimized for weight and size instead of sheer pace. But as Shirriff has painstakingly determined, it mines Bitcoins with lots of cautious massaging. As he writes:
Like most computer systems of the Sixties, the AGC used magnetic core memory, storing each bit in a tiny magnetized ferrite ring. Since center memory was fairly bulky, the AGC had simply 2K phrases (approximately 4K bytes) of RAM. The AGC’s addressing scheme made matters more complex considering that you may only access 256 words unless you used an inconvenient financial institution switching mechanism.

The hassle is that the SHA-256 rules use 8 (32-bit) hash values, a 64-phrase massage table, and eight words of intermediate values. These three arrays on my own used up 240 AGC phrases, leaving approximately sixteen terms for the whole lot else (temporary values, subroutine return addresses, loop counters, pointers, and many others.) I managed to get the entirety to suit in one bank by reusing these sixteen words for multiple functions. However, I spent several times debugging issues while a variable clobbered a region still in use.

This is a technical accomplishment, and however, it’s absolutely now not a realistic one. At the AGC’s top velocity, it may cope with 1 hash every 10.3 seconds. This beats Shirriff’s pen-and-paper technique (0. Sixty-seven hashes in step with day) and an IBM punch-card computer (eighty seconds in action with a hash) but isn’t as fast as the Xerox Alto (1. Five soups in line with second). At that fee, it might take longer than the universe’s lifetime to mine a single Bitcoin, making this an impractical technique of quite something.
It is a thrilling demonstration of laptop horsepower from an entirely specific era.

This became a flexible, trendy purpose, machine language computer that was also integrated into the first technology, Phalanx CWIS, and turned into recognized at the Weapons Fire Control School at Great Lakes because of the “Apollo 1” Computer on R2D2. The CPU of Apollo 1 in later years also became produced via General Dynamics. If you are like most people after they go out and purchase a new Personal Computer, you probably get excited while taking it out of the field, turning it on, and marveling at how speedy it runs. A new computer constantly seems to run faster and boot up faster than your antique laptop. The programs and games appear to run without any sluggish down, and when you get to the internet, the pages load instantly on the display screen, and you can quickly surf from one website to another. Over time, your PC can gradually go down and not run as soon as it did when it became new.

Johnny J. Hernandez
I write about new gadgets and technology. I love trying out new tech products. And if it's good enough, I'll review it here. I'm a techie. I've been writing since 2004. I started back in 2012.