I’m a modern day minor, for Bitcoins specifically. I ordered a Butterfly Labs 5.5Ghz, the smallest ASIC minor in June 2013. At that point Butterfly Labs was massively behind on orders or overwhelmed. Thanks to the backlog I didn’t actually receive the unit until late December. During the same period Bitcoins went from around $100 per coin to over a $1,000.
Bitcoin has been on my radar for a couple years now but the early mining approaches, standard CPU and later CPU/GPU based, were clearly money losers once the cost of power and cooling was added to your overall costs. Butterfly’s stand alone ASIC minor, and their competitors, changed the landscape. The ASIC chips at the heart of these systems are designed from the ground up to do one thing, solve SHA-2 crytographic hashes, a.k.a. mining.
Because it’s purpose built, my minor runs about 500 times faster than a typical CPU/GPU solution, while sipping 1/10 of the power. Based on current electricity pricing, that meant mining could be done profitably, so long as the Bitcoin market didn’t collapse. And that was based on the $100 exchange rate. My personally rational for buying into minor was to learn more about crytocurrencies, and not fortune hunting.
Crytocurrency, of which Bitcoin is the most well known, is a truly fascinating and likely world changing technology. Unlike traditional currencies, cryptocurrencies aren’t owned or regulated by any government or sovereign state. They are strictly market-based, like gold or silver. But unlike like those commodities, Bitcoin is 100% digital, so it can flow effectively and friction-free, anonymously from buyer to seller. This feature eliminates the need for middle men and the inevitable transaction fees they collect. Because it’s not tied to a nation, it doesn’t respond to government action or inaction.
These features make Bitcoin a great solution for anyone who prefers to keep their business, their business. And while criminal activity is a noted detractor, the potential benefits of privacy far out weigh the additional pain to law enforcement. At least that’s my opinion at least, time will tell.
Speaking of time, to date my $300 minor has nearly paid for itself, at current exchange anyway. If Bitcoin gets back up to $1,000, or the even crazier $40,000 valuation that the Winklevoss twins have targeted, it could turn out to be excellent investment. But even if Bitcoin tanks, the adventure and inventible learnings are well worth it.