Bitcoin, the stuff you really should have invested in back when you had no idea it existed. Designed to be a modern digital currency that governments or the Rockefellers couldn’t control, and instead becoming this generation’s snake oil pitch, Bitcoin is less a virtual wallet of cash that you can use to buy goods with and more of a commodity that can be traded for absurd sums of cash.
The price of Bitcoin has recently reached a new high, and naturally people are looking to cash in on their investments. According to the Guardian via PC Gamer, computer engineer James Howells is one such investor who made the mistake of binning a laptop hard drive several years ago that had 7500 Bitcoins stored on it. That’s a value of $273 million at the time of writing, and the most expensive mistake since the third founder of Apple sold his 10% share of the company back to Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak for $800.
Howells obviously wants to recover his discarded hard drive, and has offered his local Newport council 25% of the value of the Bitcoins if they help him dig through a specific section of the landfill. Howell’s plan is to gain access to the landfill records, which would identify when he threw the hard drive away, the serial number of the bin that it was in, and that would eventually lead him to a grid reference to dig through.
It’s sort of like a treasure hunt, only smellier and with a higher chance of everyone needing Tetanus injections afterwards. There’s only two major problems here: Digging through seven years worth of refuse would be catastrophically terrible for the local environment and would result in a few million tons of methane and CO2 being released into the atmosphere. The Newport Council would have to break many regulations just for a chance to see if the hard drive could be found, and then there’s the second part of the dilemma: Would the old laptop storage drive even be in working condition?
There’s no shortage of miracles that engineers can pull off today when it comes to retrieving information from old and busted hard drives, but salvaging thousands of Bitcoins from a device that has spent the last seven years buried under all manner of garbage is a bit of a tall order. For now, Howells is out of luck in his quest to retrieve his long-lost digital fortune.
Last Updated: January 19, 2021