A man in the UK has put together a team of eight people to try and recover a hard drive that holds around 8,000 Bitcoins.
The value of BTC is constantly changing, but even now, after the recent crash, the hard drive is still worth north of $180 million.
James Howells, an IT engineer from Newport, South Wales, was an early adopter and miner of Bitcoin back when the world’s best-known cryptocurrency was just in its infancy.
Howells mined around 8,000 Bitcoin with his computer.
One day he accidentally threw the hard drive containing the not-so-small fortune in the trash, and it later ended up in the landfill.
He has been trying to retrieve it ever since.
There are issues on top of issues here, starting with the fact that you can’t get anywhere near the landfill site, where the hard drive is believed to be, without (many) permits.
Howells has tirelessly applied to get permission to start digging but the local council has always declined, citing environmental and financial reasons.
He has now put together a team to recover his fortune.
Bitcoin hard drive in landfill
His idea is to get a combination of human sorters and robo-dogs powered by AI and specifically trained to retrieve something that looks and weighs exactly like the hard drive he lost.
The team of experts he’s put together will help him with landfill excavation, waste management and data extraction.
Which brings us to the second biggest challenge: even if he actually managed to find the HDD, would it still work?
According to Howells and other IT experts, it’s all about a small component called the ‘platter’, a tiny disc made of glass or metal that holds the data.
If that’s intact, then yes, the hard drive would almost certainly still be usable. If it isn’t, well, it won’t.
The chances are slim but for $181 million, it’s certainly worth a try.
These Bitcoins were worth very close to zero when he first mined them, and a few million when he lost the hard drive in 2013.
Now they’re worth $180+ million.
But at the coin’s peak in November 2021, 8,000 bitcoins would have been worth half a billion dollars.
If he succeeds, Howells says he’ll keep 30 percent of what’s on the drive.
Another 30 percent would go to the investors, 25 percent would go to the recovery team, and the rest would support local causes, including a direct donation (in BTC) to each of Newport’s 150,000 residents.
You have to admire Howells’ spirit and determination.