I usually shy away from current events type articles on NODE, but recently, 21 inc [1] finally announced what they’ve been working on with the “21 Bitcoin Computer” [2], and I felt compelled to write about it.

Bitcoin and decentralization are recurring topics on NODE, and we’ve published many articles such as “Bitcoin and the autonomous robot economy” [3] and “An automated, decentralized world” [4] which both paint a picture of a world where all of us can potentially earn money from various sources, such as self-driving cars, leasing out tools like 3D printers or growing your own food and selling any excess through a bitcoin vending machine. Well, I think this 21 Bitcoin Computer could be the key to enabling this future on a mass scale.

To be clear, this is definitely not buying advice, and I’m not vouching for the company, but I think the idea is quite exciting! As always, do your own research.



Since it is connected to a Raspberry Pi, the 21 Bitcoin Computer could easily hook up things like motors and switches, meaning that Bitcoin could be added to other real-world items. From door locks, to vending machines, to automated services such as 3D printing, to on demand wifi, lighting, electricity, water or gas, this could open up many new possibilities in the growing peer to peer economy. That’s not even mentioning the explosion of the ‘Internet of Things’ and smart devices that could be harnessed too.


So, aside from the obvious options of buying and selling physical products and services, I think the more interesting possibility is selling computational power and access to programs. Decentralized cloud computing.

Imagine paying for by-the-minute access to browser accessible programs, or for bots to carry out laborious tasks for you, all without needing to buy products outright, or program them yourself. These bots could even communicate and transact with each other to increase their brain power.

This pay-as-you-go model opens up the potential for a world where, for example, if you wanted to use a piece of software for 35 mins, you’d only have to pay a tiny fee for the time you used it, and nothing else.


Along with the built-in Bitcoin miner on the hardware, this ability to earn BTC in a variety of ways means that, potentially, one of the main sticking points with Bitcoin, i.e. actually getting hold of them, could become a lot easier. If you provided a valuable service or product to people, you wouldn’t need to deal with Bitcoin exchanges anymore.

The Matrix meme famous with Bitcoiners sums it up nicely:

Neo: “What are you trying to tell me, that I can trade my bitcoins for millions someday?”

Morpheus: “No Neo, I’m trying to tell you that when you’re ready…you won’t have to”


Yes you can do all this without buying a specialized piece of hardware, but the same was true about the Raspberry Pi. The important thing is the unified platform and package that the devs and tinkerers of the world can build upon. This might be it. However, I do think that the price (currently $400) will need to fall significantly for it to really take off. I think this is a promising step forward though. What do you think?