Unfortunately, he realized several months later that the drive held 7,500 Bitcoin mined back in 2009. At the time, with Bitcoin approaching and finally just exceeding $1,000 in price, the scrapped hard drive would have been worth over $7 mln.
The story created a lot of hype about the rising the value of Bitcoin and the fortunes – or misfortunes – of the currency’s first miners and investors. Many of them had dabbled with the currency while it was in its infancy, only to forget about it and fail to backup their wallets.
Howells, who essentially dumped $7.5 mln (£4 mln) onto a landfill in Newport, Wales was of course furious, disappointed and dumbstruck. Over the next few years, he may have come to terms with his loss, only to have old wounds reopened as the currency began its long climb this year. At press time, Bitcoin’s price stands at $10,700, giving that trashed hard drive a value of over $80 mln.
‘That’s a bad idea’
Howell had mined those 7,500 coins himself as a hobby back when Bitcoin was a mere plaything for the technologically inclined. Howells related:
“You know when you put something in the bin, and in your head, say to yourself ‘that’s a bad idea’? I really did have that.”
Howells explains how he stopped mining when his girlfriend complained about the noise from the laptop and the heat it was producing. When he spilled lemonade on the laptop the following year, he dismantled it for parts. He initially kept the hard drive for a few years before finally discarding it…