Does anyone by chance know? Can't seem to find this anywhere and this question popped into my head.

  • Antminers were released before Antshares existed. – Andrew Chow May 17 at 4:31

Presumably (I'm not sure, this is an educated guess) they called it an antminer because they have very many of them, all set to do a single thing and doing it well. One could compare their mining pool to an ant hive, where each mining ASIC is an individual ant, foraging for food.

This is a very common metaphor, because ants are fascinating creatures, whose actions are completely governed by very simple rules, which cause truly incredible emergent behavior. See: Ant Colony Optimization for a good example of this.

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