Bitcoin Mining Rush Means Real Cash for Hardware Makers

(Bloomberg) Bitcoin, the virtual money that exists only in digital form, is spawning a real-world hardware boom.

The currency, used to buy and sell everything from electronics to illegal drugs on the Web, has surged to about $135, more than 10 times its value a year ago.

The rally has created a cottage industry of speculators eager to get their hands on bitcoins, which can only be created digitally by using powerful computers to solve complex software problems. That has in turn boosted a market for high-powered machines, some costing more than $20,000 apiece, which are custom-made to unlock new bitcoins in a process called mining, a nod to the excavation of minerals and metal ore.

“Mining can actually be quite profitable when miners are able to get their equipment in a timely manner, which is what keeps many of us looking for better, faster and cheaper hardware all the time,” said Andrew Korb, who set up a fund that buys systems to mint bitcoins and shares the proceeds with investors.