21 Inc Unveils Plan to Make Every Computer a Bitcoin Computer

Balaji Srinivasan, co-founder and CEO of 21 Inc., announced the launch of the 21 software package at the Consensus 2016 blockchain conference.

AccessTimeIconMay 3, 2016 at 10:41 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 11, 2021 at 12:15 p.m. UTC

Balaji Srinivasan, co-founder and CEO of 21 Inc, announced the launch of the 21 software package at the Consensus 2016 blockchain conference, allowing anyone with a computer to receive bitcoin.

Freely available, the software allows any connected device to join the 21 network, enabling connectivity with the 21 Marketplace and providing capabilities that were previously only available to owners of the 21 Bitcoin Computer.

Srinivasan told the audience:

"What we think is that there is going to be a third Web, the Machine Web, where the links are actually payments between machines."

According to Srinivasan, the World Wide Web is the 'first web', consisting of documents connected to one another. The second is the social web, providing connectivity between people directly through technology.

In his presentation, Srinivasan argued for the ability to enable machines to be able to pay other machines, effectively monetizing HTTP.

"The concept is a web where machines are earning bitcoin on every HTTP request," he explained. "Every time you load a webpage is a HTTP request. That’s a lot of HTTP requests. If you are earning bitcoin on every HTTP request, that could be a lot of earned bitcoins."

One of the immediate use cases: digital paywalls. Teasing Paul Vigna of The Wall Street Journal, Srinivasan walked through the example of signing up for the newspaper.

"You either need to sign up for the paywall or you are paying Google ad based microtransactions," he said.

But Srinivasan also used the example of Amazon Web Services, which requires that users sign up for an account, enter their personal information and pay monthly with a credit card. He explained that on the machine-to-machine Web, there is no reason to sign up for anything.

Many avenues to bitcoin

During the presentation, Srinivasan walked through the various means by which the 21 software can generate bitcoins. Users can mine bitcoin, utilize a Coinbase integration to make purchases directly through the software, tap a faucet that allows for small amounts of bitcoin (with limits), complete small tasks for 21 directly in exchange for payment or create a machine-payable service.

Describing how the software can be used to create a machine-payable service, Balaji walked through the process of adding a single line of code to any application. This, he said, allows the developer to introduce micropayments.

“You can say, I want 5,000 satoshis per API call. You can have arbitrary pricing and surge pricing. You can go retrofit or build new applications that use bitcoin micropayments,” he said.

Those applications can then be marked to other users and developers that might need the apps. This marketplace, which 21 announced in March, allows anyone that owns a Bitcoin Computer to buy or sell applications. Today's software release expands the possible user base.

"We’ve taken every computer and turned it into a Bitcoin Computer. It’s a new way to monetize online," he said.

Along with marketing these applications, Srinivasan explained that the software enables a dynamic pricing mechanism whereby different users can be charged different amounts.

“You can have lower prices for your family, you can do surge pricing [for high usage], and you can have totally dynamic pricing,” he said.

Before he ended his presentation, Srinivasan indicated that the company still has plans to pursue embedded mining – something that past investment materials have suggested was on the firm's future roadmap.

Watch the video from Consensus 2016 here:

Image via Pete Rizzo for CoinDesk


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