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Author Topic: What happened to early bitcoins  (Read 2322 times)
tytus
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May 25, 2013, 02:37:17 PM
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I was interested whether early Bitcoins are also traded on exchanges and contribute to price shaping. Apparently not. I extracted the time [block height] of unspent transaction outputs. Below is the plot of the time bitcoins were last used. Time is expressed in 1000 block units (approximately 1 week). For each 1000 blocks the total number of bitcoins last used in these 1000 blocks is show. For two big outliers the block numbers and the BTC values are printed to the right.

The plot below shows the cumulative number of unspent bitcoins starting from the beginning of bitcoin mining.

It looks like a large number of bitcoins is waiting in very old accounts untouched for many years. Approximately 30% of bitcoins have not been touched for more than 2 years. So a total of 15% of all bitcoins to by mined are still in the hands of developers and early adopters. This is not much, given the value they created for the global financial system :-)
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May 25, 2013, 02:45:14 PM
 #2

Nice report, thanks!
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May 25, 2013, 02:54:35 PM
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It looks like a large number of bitcoins is waiting in very old accounts untouched for many years. Approximately 30% of bitcoins have not been touched for more than 2 years. So a total of 15% of all bitcoins to by mined are still in the hands of developers and early adopters. This is not much, given the value they created for the global financial system :-)

Obviously this includes coins which are to be considered lost forever.

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May 25, 2013, 03:07:03 PM
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hd failure, or windows format without proper backup...   Roll Eyes

bad for the owner, great for everyone else.

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May 25, 2013, 03:12:42 PM
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Most of the old bitcoins probably are lost. Back then they were worthless, people just mined some and then just uninstalled bitcoin and deleted the wallet.
CasinoBit
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May 25, 2013, 09:49:25 PM
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Most of the old bitcoins probably are lost. Back then they were worthless, people just mined some and then just uninstalled bitcoin and deleted the wallet.

Lol, this is so ridiculously funny, I can just see people telling their grandchildren about it a hundred years down the road and it will sound something like "Well back at the day we mined and smelted Gold for fun and then we threw it away!"
Birdy
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May 25, 2013, 11:05:53 PM
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I think at least 1 million Bitcoins are lost.
toffoo
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May 25, 2013, 11:41:49 PM
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So any theories on what those outliers represent?

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May 26, 2013, 12:39:27 AM
 #9

So any theories on what those outliers represent?
Rich dudes putting all their eggs in one basket.

Hardfork aren't that hard.
1GCDzqmX2Cf513E8NeThNHxiYEivU1Chhe
tytus
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May 26, 2013, 11:38:31 PM
 #10

To find out if the funds are lost, I could have checked when the target accounts of these unspent transactions have been last used, but this would probably require scanning all transactions in the block chain :-( I think the BTC client does not keep such data in an easy accessible form. I will look into this tomorrow.
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May 27, 2013, 04:30:15 AM
 #11

interesting chart

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May 27, 2013, 03:55:35 PM
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Most of the old bitcoins probably are lost. Back then they were worthless, people just mined some and then just uninstalled bitcoin and deleted the wallet.

Lol, this is so ridiculously funny, I can just see people telling their grandchildren about it a hundred years down the road and it will sound something like "Well back at the day we mined and smelted Gold for fun and then we threw it away!"

Hahaha, pretty much!  Grin

Buy a TREZOR! Premier BTC hardware wallet. If you're reading this, you should probably buy one if you don't already have one. You'll thank me later.
tytus
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June 02, 2013, 04:03:08 PM
 #13

I don't think the early bitcoins are completely lost. These two transactions activate bitcoins from the very early time  [second month] of bitcoin mining few weeks ago:
http://blockchain.info/address/15vcSJ8BbpmxWhWxhLajfuwZzUN9RG2TH5
http://blockchain.info/address/19WZdj4kVWh3WRXNFLdoAo99N6XkmytSa8
In fact the first transaction was on 2013-04-08, just 2 days before the last bitcoin price crash

I extracted the time the accounts with unspent transactions were last accessed. The two plots on the bottom show updated values. The second peak disappeared which means that the transaction outputs are not touched but the wallet with these funds has been used after block 153 000. The first peak is still present and corresponds to the time around end of Feb 2011. According to the bitcoin history https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/History this is when "MagicalTux buys mtgox.com from its founder Jed McCaleb". No thefts are reported for this period in the theft archive https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=83794.0.

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June 02, 2013, 04:10:15 PM
 #14

What I would like to know, which is impossible to have any specific information on, is how many people mined some 20,000 BTC's in the early days and sold their computers with the wallets on them?  Or had their horrid 2009-2010 era hard drives fail on them?  Or unforseeable accidents along the way?  edit: I didn't read the rest of the comments in the thread, looks like you were discussing the same things! Smiley

BitHost
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June 02, 2013, 04:17:46 PM
 #15

One thing to consider is that some "old" accounts can be traded without any visible transaction on the internet. Someone might trade whole computer / flashdrive / private key / whatever for cash/bank/whatever. So you not necessarily need to make a real bitcoin transaction.
Birdy
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June 02, 2013, 04:18:59 PM
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One thing to consider is that some "old" accounts can be traded without any visible transaction on the internet. Someone might trade whole computer / flashdrive / private key / whatever for cash/bank/whatever.

But why would you risk to leave a giant sum on this old address?
The seller could still have the private key.
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June 02, 2013, 04:22:25 PM
 #17

But why would you risk to leave a giant sum on this old address?
The seller could still have the private key.

One reason are threads / speculations like these, where people analyze old accounts. So you don't freak out masses with giant moves. In some cases, where you trade to people / party that have mutual trust, you can afford not to reveal any transaction to public.
Ente
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June 05, 2013, 03:19:38 PM
 #18

But why would you risk to leave a giant sum on this old address?
The seller could still have the private key.

One reason are threads / speculations like these, where people analyze old accounts. So you don't freak out masses with giant moves. In some cases, where you trade to people / party that have mutual trust, you can afford not to reveal any transaction to public.

True!
Imagine what would happen if suddenly some outputs from the first thousand blocks started moving?
Half of the forum would await the imminent reappearance of the messias, the other half would start killing each other! :-)

Ente
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June 05, 2013, 04:00:03 PM
 #19

oh lol!
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