IntoBlockchain got their hands on the first three 21 Bitcoin Computers in the Netherlands a little while back, and what better way to put them to the test than organizing a 12 hour hackathon? On May 26, part of Groningen’s Startup Fest events, three teams got to play around, experiment and build prototypes with these exotic babies.
The 21 Bitcoin Computer came out last year and is a fast and easy way for developers to learn to use Bitcoin and Blockchain in applications. It has everything you need to build your first app in a weekend (and in this case 12 hours): a micropayments server, a full copy of the Blockchain, and a command line interface for programmatically mining, buying, and selling digital goods for bitcoin. They’re basically Raspberry Pi computers with a ASIC mining chip.
So three developer teams set up shop at the Launch Café to take these computers for a test drive, share their thoughts about the specs and capabilities of the 21 computers, and turn cool ideas into working prototypes. The hackathon was organized by Rutger van Zuidam, founder of IntoBlockchain.com
Hacking & building
Three computers, three different cases.
The first application: a new revenue model for media outlets. As we all know, news media haven’t been doing well since the interwebs became a thing, and even worse since adblockers became popular. They depend on advertisements for income, and the first team worked on an alternative way of making money: bitcoin transactions. “It’s similar to what Blendle is doing, but with a twist”, Alexander Postma, one of the team members, explains. “If you don’t want to see all those advertisements, you pay a small fee per article, using Bitcoin.”
When cars stop needing drivers in the near future and you want to rent one, the second team has got you covered. They came up with a payment model, so you can rent one and drive around hassle free, with simple Bitcoin transactions.
And last, but certainly not least, team 3 based their Bitcoin application on helping journalists like Dutch crime journalist Chris Klomp pay the bills, with paid private Twitter following. Want to follow his live tweets straigth from the courtroom? All you have to do is follow the private account, pay a fistful of satoshis (smaller units of Bitcoin) to the journalist and Twitter automagically accepts you as a new follower of the private account. The team even added functionality to the Twitter API to make this happen. This could be a really great way of creating extra revenue for freelance journalists, or even internet celebrities.
San Francisco calling
So what’s it like working with these computers? The consensus is pretty clear: “It’s a really great way for developers to familiarize themselves with Bitcoin and build simple apps as you go along”, says Roald Nefs, one of the team members working on the private tweets app. “It’s a great stepping stone, but if you want to go beyond the basics and develop more custom and professional applications with a broader API, you’ll need Ethereum or Coinbase.”
What’s really cool too, is that 21 Inc., the folks behind the computers are very helpful and interested in what their users are doing with it. “I just got off the phone with them”, Rutger says. “How awesome is it that you’re setting up a little hackathon here in Groningen and you’re suddenly talking to the creators, on the other side of the Ocean in San Francisco! They’re also retweeting the cool things we’re doing here.”
After 12 hours of working hard and developing, all three teams came up with kickass prototypes. And for the team developing the paid tweet following, it won’t stop with just one hackathon and early prototype. They get to give a demo during the Dutch Blockchain Conference on June 20th,