Just What Do You Think You're Doing, Dave?

How Apollo's astronauts learned to work with--and around--their computers

2 min read

In 1961, the average rocket-borne computer ran on average for 15 hours before an electronics ­failure crashed it. That ­dismal ­performance record didn’t matter much to the ­military, whose suborbital ­missiles required only ­minutes of computer on-time. But a manned moon shot required that computers run 1500 hours between failures.

As David Mindell points out in Digital Apollo: Human and Machine in Spaceflight , NASA’s project managers not only met that 1500-hour goal but greatly overshot it. When Neil Armstrong and his compatriots strode on the lunar surface between 1969 and 1972, the total mean time between ­failures of the onboard computers turned out to be closer to 50 000 hours.

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The Spectacular Collapse of CryptoKitties, the First Big Blockchain Game

A cautionary tale of NFTs, Ethereum, and cryptocurrency security

8 min read
Mountains and cresting waves made of cartoon cats and large green coins.
Frank Stockton

On 4 September 2018, someone known only as Rabono bought an angry cartoon cat named Dragon for 600 ether—an amount of Ethereum cryptocurrency worth about US $170,000 at the time, or $745,000 at the cryptocurrency’s value in July 2022.

It was by far the highest transaction yet for a nonfungible token (NFT), the then-new concept of a unique digital asset. And it was a headline-grabbing opportunity for CryptoKitties, the world’s first blockchain gaming hit. But the sky-high transaction obscured a more difficult truth: CryptoKitties was dying, and it had been for some time.

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