The laptop in question. Credit: Dmitrii Eliuseev

As the empty shelves where graphics cards should sit prove, cryptocurrency mining is big business. But one, uh, ‘enterprising’ individual has proven that you don’t need the latest Nvidia RTX GPUs to mine Bitcoin… as long as you’re prepared to wait a few million years before cashing out.

Computer hobbyist Dmitrii Eliuseev taught an old Toshiba T3200SX laptop how to mine Bitcoin via a custom MS-DOS program. Yes, the laptop was released in 1989, some three years before Windows 3.1 changed everything. 

While you may not be familiar with the T3200SX, suffice it to say, it was a bit of a beast when your author was five years old, thanks to its 16MHz Intel 386SX processor, 1MB RAM and 80MB hard drive. Thirty-three years later, it doesn’t look quite as appealing a buy, given even your average smart toaster employs significantly more processing grunt purely to ensure your bread isn’t burned.

In any case, Eluiseev did manage to get the laptop to mine Bitcoin, but you’ll have to wait a while to cash out. Specifically, with a speed of 15 hashes per second, the programmer believes it’ll produce US$1 (~NZ$1.47) every 584 million years. 

As Tom’s Hardware notes, you’ll also have an expensive electricity bill to pay in 584 million years’ time, too. The T3200SX uses around 39W of power under load, which means that you’ll owe any electricity company still operating about US$23.1 billion (~NZ$34 billion) for the many millennia of pointless power consumption. And that’s assuming Bitcoin actually holds any value in 584 million years time, which feels doubtful given it’s debatable it’ll hold any value in five years’ time.

Plus, if you bought the laptop back when it was released, you’re already US$6,299 (~NZ$9,265) in the hole — or actually double that in today’s money.

Still, if you want to give it a try, Eliuseev has made the MS-DOS Bitcoin mining software available to download via Github. I’ll probably hold out for the Windows 3.1 release.