If he hadn’t lost his private key and password, the South African engineer – Mark Michaels – would have about $940,000 in BTC.
A South African resident revealed that he mined 20 BTC when he was young, meaning he would now be close to a millionaire. Unfortunately, he lost his Bitcoin wallet key and password.
BTC password – as important as BTC itself
Mark Michaels – a 24-year-old electronics engineer from Pretoria, South Africa – liked cryptocurrencies as a child. More than 10 years ago, when he was in 7th grade, he searched the Internet to learn how to extract Bitcoin and eventually got started.
“I believe I used the original Bitcoin wallet software, which required a wallet key and password for access,” said Michaels.
Working continuously for a few weeks, the engineer managed to mine 20 BTC. At the time, the dollar value of the primary cryptocurrency was only $0.0008. In addition to its insignificant price, there were also no cryptocurrency platforms that would allow it to sell the assets for cash:
“Eventually, I got bored with it because you couldn’t do much more on your PC while it was busy, and the Bitcoin you extracted was practically useless.”
Bearing in mind that he was still young and the coins were barely worth it, he carelessly stored his Bitcoin wallet key and password in a text document on his computer’s desktop. At one point, Michaels accidentally deleted the files while cleaning his device.
However, when the price of BTC rose to $1,000 a few years later, the South African made his first real attempt to restore lost virtual assets:
“I remember collecting all the hard drives, memory cards, CDs and DVDs in the house and carefully examining each one. This took about a week. I also tried running data recovery software on my main hard drive, but it wasn’t very helpful. At that time, this drive had been formatted and reused several times. ”
Michaels’ Bitcoin stake is worth about $940,000, calculated at today’s prices. However, he said he has made peace with losing access to his assets, comparing his case to predicting the winning numbers on a lottery ticket and then deciding not to buy it.
Man loses access to 7,002 BTC
The case of Mark Michaels is not an isolated example. According to cryptocurrency data provider Chainalysis, about 20% of the existing 18.5 million Bitcoins have been lost or are in lost wallets. This just shows the importance of storing the private key.
While the South African engineer can’t handle his 20 BTC, Stefan Thomas – a German-born programmer who lives in San Francisco – can’t remember his password and therefore has lost access to 7,002 bitcoins. Doing the math means he would have about $328 million.
In 2011, Thomas produced an educational video called “What’s Bitcoin?” to another cryptocurrency fan, who sent him 7,002 BTC for his services. The German didn’t pay much attention, as the virtual asset was almost useless at the time and he lost the digital keys from his wallet.
He completely changed his attitude when the value of the BTC exploded over the next few years, making several attempts to access it. Your wallet allows users ten attempts to guess the password. So far, Thomas has used eight of his most common assumptions, but to no avail:
“I would just lie in bed and think about it. So I would go to the computer with some new strategy, and it wouldn’t work, and I would be desperate again.”
The author: Bruno Lugarini
Student of Information Systems, computer technician, passionate about technology, enthusiast of cryptocurrencies and Nerd.