Bitcoin on the Apple II

August 26th, 2019 11:27 AM
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Every April 1st, Juiced.GS publishes an April Fool's joke, such as that we'd be encrypting all print issues, or cryogenically freezing our staff. Most readers find it amusing; some find it confusing ("Is this real?"); one found it so offensive that they cancelled their subscription.

To avoid a repeat of any extreme reactions, I aimed for this year's to be so absurd that no one would ever believe it or feel betrayed by it: Juiced.GS was introducing JuicyBits™, an 8-bit cryptocurrency. How ridiculous! The processing power of the Apple II, while impressive for its time, was nowhere near the minimum to compute modern blockchains. Clearly the impossibility of anyone attempting such a thing made the press release an obvious joke.

Charles Mangin didn't get the memo.

As detailed in his thorough blog post, Mangin was inspired not by Juiced.GS, but by last month's KansasFest, to mine Bitcoin on the Apple II for real. With plenty of time on the ride home from Kansas City to theorize his approach, followed by some insightful assistance from Peter Ferrie, it wasn't long before Mangin had an actual, working algorithm for computing cryptocurrency on his Apple II. Not only that, but he rigged a setup that outputs the computer's video to Twitch, the popular streaming network, allowing us to watch the computations in real-time.

Watch live video from 8BTC on www.twitch.tv

Don't sit on the edge of your seat waiting for that magic moment when a Bitcoin is mined, though:

… mining Bitcoin successfully at 3.8 hashes per second will happen, on average, once in 256 trillion years. But it could happen tomorrow. It's a lottery, after all.

At this point, I'm not sure if the joke is on Charles or on Juiced.GS.