A small mistake with dire consequences. Having 9,000 bitcoins (BTC) is clearly no longer allowed for everyone. Even with the cryptocurrency market currently in a sluggish state, it is still close to $194 million. However, this is the number of bitcoins that a person lost in one night. Luckily for his sanity, that was in 2010, but his story is still relevant today.
Losing $600 is unpleasant, but imagine $194 million!
In the fertile year of 2010, when Satoshi Nakamoto was still overseeing his very young Bitcoin project, some early crypto enthusiasts were already making mistakes with their personal wallet keys.
At the time, 9,000 bitcoins were worth about $600. So nothing to do with 2022, but it already represented an amount that could be infuriating to lose. However, this is a sad story that happened to a certain “Stone Man” who spoke about his mistake on the BitcoinTalk forum on August 10, 2010.
Entitled “Large amount of bitcoins lost”, his post reports the final destruction of 8900 bitcoins (actually: 8999 bitcoins).
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Bitcoin popularized the importance of cryptographic private keys
Summing up the fateful step of the Stone Man above. He explains that he first bought 9,000 bitcoins on one of the very few exchanges in this pioneering era. He then transferred them to his bitcoin wallet, whose public and private keys he knew thanks to the wallet.dat file.
Except he then made a 1 BTC transaction to his public address. When the transaction was made, all bitcoins were “spent”: 1 BTC went to their address, and the remaining 8,999 to a new address that was automatically generated after the transaction was verified by the blockchain (which takes a maximum of 10 minutes for Bitcoin).
And, apart from bis, he turned off his computer without waiting for verification in the blockchain. A computer that was under a bootable Linux CD. It was at this point that 8,999 bitcoins were lost forever. Indeed, his wallet.dat backup of his bitcoin wallet client, although saved to a flash drive at the beginning of the operation, is partially out of date and will not include the private keys (and therefore access) to the address that received 8,999 BTC ! Access to only 1 BTC of the starting address…
It is statistically impossible that one day someone would accidentally generate the same private keys that unlock these nearly 9,000 bitcoins. This story reminds us that we should always be very careful with our private keys, whether they’re in a hardware wallet like Ledger’s or a 24-word passphrase written down somewhere.
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