Thought For The Week

The 21Inc Bitcoin Computer Isn’t About Mining

This week 21Inc launched their first product - the Bitcoin computer (BC). At its core, the BC is a Raspberry Pi 2 with a 125 gh/s USB miner attached to it.

Shortly after its release many from the Bitcoin/blockchain intelligentsia had a field day ripping the specs apart and disregarding the idea of mining at home as ridiculous (see HERE and HERE). Many fixated on the specs of the product noting the total lack of economic incentive to mine using the BC.

Much like with most new technology, it’s very easy to see the product as the ‘product’ and not an enabler. The reality is that the BC is not about mining. It’s about creating - with the miner simply being there to ‘power’ the process.

Put simply, the 21Inc BC is a hardware devkit for Bitcoin (much like the Oculus Rift DK1 was for modern VR) designed to allow people to experiment with what can be built when devices have natively built into them a market mechanism.

Although, this might seem insignificant or trivial at first, the idea that market dynamics can now be applied to an arbitrary pieces of hardware simply with a box and a set of command line operations (which I think will be the key component of the product) opens up the internet of things in a very interesting way.

In many ways, the BC may turn out to be the TRS-80 of Bitcoin (or the maybe the Altair 8800). Just as these devices helped launch the microprocessor home computer revolution in the 80s, the BC might be the start of a Bitcoin enabled internet.

--- Alan Tsen, @alantsen

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