To follow along with its goal to put “a bitcoin miner in every device and in every hand,” 21 Inc. announced on Thursday that customers could now purchase the 21 Bitcoin Computer on its website with bitcoin.
When a user adds the Bitcoin Computer to his or her cart, they can opt to select “Make Shipping Private,” which gives the user the ability to have the package delivered to a post office box rather than their home address. This ends the need for the user to give his name, though the company admits its need to collect an email address. Further, by paying with bitcoin, the user can keep the transaction nearly private.
“I think we need to move towards a more private Internet over time. It’s not going to happen in one step. Usability is important, and I’m a pragmatist. But if we keep taking steps in the right direction, we can build something better than today,” said Balaji S. Srinivasan, founder and CEO of 21 Inc., in an interview with Bitcoin Magazine talking about the announcement.
The 21 Bitcoin Computer is a development tool to allow developers the ability to create Bitcoin-payable apps, services and devices. The idea is that the hardware mines for bitcoin and then uses those mined bitcoin to do things.
For example, if someone were to build a search engine, rather than flooding the browser with ads, that person could charge 10 bits for a search. By going through the 21 Bitcoin Computer, it would allow for these sorts of apps to be built and for the transactions to be verified.
In its announcement, the founders of 21 said, “our long-term goal is to gradually replace advertising with micropayments from mined bitcoin, to build an Internet where you pay with your power rather than your privacy.”
While bitcoin is not nearly as anonymous as many had originally anticipated, there are multiple ways in which a user can keep his or her identity mostly private. Further, by using an email service such as Hushmail a user would be able to create an email alias specific for this purchase.
The 21 Bitcoin Computer currently is for sale only in the United States; however, the company is preparing to expand to other countries as it expands international support.
21 Inc. came out of stealth mode in March 2015 when it announced that it had raised $116 million in fundraising over multiple rounds from Andreessen Horowitz, Data Collective, Khosla Ventures, RRE Ventures, Yuan Capital, along with Peter Thiel and most notably, Qualcomm Ventures.
Ultimately, the company is working on creating embedded mining environment where everything with a silicon chip also has a bitcoin mining chip in it.
Jacob Cohen Donnelly is a consultant and journalist in the Bitcoin space. He runs a weekly newsletter about bitcoin called Crypto Brief .