Well, I was curious about this question myself, so I've been working on programs to see how the early mined coins have been used. Based on my work here, http://forum.bitcoin.org/index.php?topic=11171.0
, there are an awful lot of early coins, approx 2.5 million BTC, that haven't been touched since they were first mined. Now, even though they're not in circulation, it's impossible to know whether many of those are actually lost or not, but I honestly think a lot of people would have cashed out by now.
yes, i agree.
i forget how long ago it was - but i first saw Bitcoin something like a year ago or a little more. i think i generated a block, or maybe two. i honestly can't recall.
unfortunately, i change operating systems like most people (i hope...) change underwear.
i'd be very surprised if there weren't at least a million BTC gone forever - or at least until quantum computing can recover lost coins (on another thread).