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Author Topic: Lost Bitcoins  (Read 2056 times)
Frizz23
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February 13, 2012, 10:24:18 AM
 #1

What happens to all those Bitcoins that are parked in offline / paper wallets - and get lost (-> spouse throws away paper with strange symbols on it, hard drive crash, etc.) ?

Does that mean Bitcoins get more and more precious over time?

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February 13, 2012, 10:28:10 AM
 #2

Short answer: Yes.

They are simply gone.

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February 13, 2012, 10:43:54 AM
 #3

Slightly longer answer:  It does the same thing as when you throw away a hundred dollar bill.  You lose money, and everyone else's money gains a little value.

At least with Bitcoins you can make a copy and keep it in a separate secure location.  With fiat notes they're just gone.

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February 13, 2012, 12:26:59 PM
 #4

...Spouse throws away paper with strange symbols on it...

To Bitcoins I don't know but to the Wife of the guy I just dont want to imagine!

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February 13, 2012, 02:22:44 PM
 #5

Let me fix what revalin said


Slightly longer answer:  It does the same thing as when you throw away a ingot of gold.  You lose gold, and everyone else's gold gains a little value.

Bitcoin is virtual gold, not virtual "fiat monet printed as much as will by governments and banks"
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February 13, 2012, 02:25:27 PM
 #6

If anyone has lost bitcoins, they could post here with a link to their address.

I've done analysis on the top bitcoin addresses in the past to see how long they've been sitting there.

From what I recall, not many have been sitting idle for more than a year.  There are some, but not many.

I'll likely update this analysis in a couple months once I get bored with promoting bitcoins to local merchants.

Bottom line is I'm just looking for those "early adopters" who have tons of coins, b/c you never know when they will say enough is enough and cash out.

However, I'm guessing most of that has happened.  Also, with the median 100-150k volume on mtgox.com, I think the market can absorb any single owner dumping all their coins.

Of course people could have multiple addresses, or all remaining early adopters could cash out at once.

Then again, an asteroid could take out the Earth one of these days... something to consider, be aware of, but likely nothing you can plan for.

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February 13, 2012, 02:28:18 PM
 #7

Bitcoin is virtual gold, not virtual "fiat monet printed as much as will by governments and banks"

An example of the virtual fiat model would be ScamCoin.  Hell they even have a failed monetary policy in effect. Smiley
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February 13, 2012, 03:12:10 PM
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If anyone has lost bitcoins, they could post here with a link to their address.

There is an old thread listing known lost coins.  Search for it.

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February 13, 2012, 03:53:11 PM
 #9

If anyone has lost bitcoins, they could post here with a link to their address.

There is an old thread listing known lost coins.  Search for it.

Thanks! I found 3 and pdf'ed them - it's about 200 pages of text.  I'll analyze these and see what I can summarize in the coming months.

In the mean time if you've lost additional bitcoins, please post your address and amount if you remember it.

Bonus points for a link to the blockexplorer!

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February 13, 2012, 04:15:11 PM
 #10

Let me fix what revalin said


Slightly longer answer:  It does the same thing as when you throw away a ingot of gold.  


Also oversimplified - if you lose an ingot of gold, someone may find it again. If you lose the keys to your wallet, there is basically zero chance of recovery. And yet the keys still exist!
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February 13, 2012, 04:57:51 PM
 #11

I lost 0.5 BTC recently.  I was testing a script intended to sweep any balance found in a wallet to a known address for a bootable USB miner project.  Sadly, I overwrote the USB stick with the wallet before I got all of the bugs out, so my test amount was lost.  Next time, I'll use 0.05 instead.

The problem is that I suspect that the number of actually lost coins dwarfs the number of coins properly reported as lost.  But there is no way to know.

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February 13, 2012, 05:55:50 PM
 #12

Let me fix what revalin said


Slightly longer answer:  It does the same thing as when you throw away a ingot of gold.  


Also oversimplified - if you lose an ingot of gold, someone may find it again. If you lose the keys to your wallet, there is basically zero chance of recovery. And yet the keys still exist!

Well, not true neither. If you loose a secret key, this might surface at some point in the future, too. Imagine today's crypto turning insecure - which you can take for granted for some distant future. Bitcoin might be supporting RSA16k by that time while there is still money on old keys. Now the treasure hunt would be open to crack those most valuable wallets.
I would assume if Bitcoin survives the next 100 years, every single Satoshi that was "lost" due to forgetting a private key by today will be found by someone as we would most likely have added some 0s as one Satoshi would just be too precious as the base unit.
People might "mine" for lost wallets rather than for the then ended block reward Wink

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February 14, 2012, 07:59:42 AM
 #13

Would this be a valid attack? Imagine Goldman Sachs & friends buy a large amount of all the available Bitcoins, park them - and throw away all information where they are parked.

The money it would cost would be peanuts for them (a fraction of their bailout money Wink ... and "Problem Bitcoin" would be solved before it's getting to big.

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February 14, 2012, 08:01:28 AM
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Would this be a valid attack? Imagine Goldman Sachs & friends buy a large amount of all the available Bitcoins, park them - and throw away all information where they are parked.

The money it would cost would be peanuts for them (a fraction of their bailout money Wink ... and "Problem Bitcoin" would be solved before it's getting to big.
Only another chain would pop up shortly after that...
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February 14, 2012, 08:22:16 AM
 #15

Also, one can never buy all bitcoins in existence and a market will be always there, even if there's only one bitcoin remaining.

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February 14, 2012, 02:44:29 PM
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Would this be a valid attack? Imagine Goldman Sachs & friends buy a large amount of all the available Bitcoins, park them - and throw away all information where they are parked.

The money it would cost would be peanuts for them (a fraction of their bailout money Wink ... and "Problem Bitcoin" would be solved before it's getting to big.

Sorry Frizz23 but it is ridiculous to assume that a commodity could be threatened by buying it. Will the gold market be destroyed if I buy all the gold in existence? Or the €? If I do that and destroy the commodity, I caused an explosion of its value. If I do that and dump all of my property afterwards, I raised attention and will get more people into the game than by not doing anything.

Even if you buy all but one Satoshi, the bitcoin would work for the world as it would now. We would only need to introduce more digits.

(Even one of the speakers at the Bitcoin Europe briefly sketched this "horror scenario" and I was only shaking my head. This is no threat, this would be the final break through.)

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February 14, 2012, 02:50:47 PM
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Would this be a valid attack? Imagine Goldman Sachs & friends buy a large amount of all the available Bitcoins, park them - and throw away all information where they are parked.

The money it would cost would be peanuts for them (a fraction of their bailout money Wink ... and "Problem Bitcoin" would be solved before it's getting to big.

Sorry Frizz23 but it is ridiculous to assume that a commodity could be threatened by buying it. Will the gold market be destroyed if I buy all the gold in existence? Or the €? If I do that and destroy the commodity, I caused an explosion of its value. If I do that and dump all of my property afterwards, I raised attention and will get more people into the game than by not doing anything.

Even if you buy all but one Satoshi, the bitcoin would work for the world as it would now. We would only need to introduce more digits.

(Even one of the speakers at the Bitcoin Europe briefly sketched this "horror scenario" and I was only shaking my head. This is no threat, this would be the final break through.)
If someone owned *that* much Bitcoin it's because we all went full retard. We would probably just start Bitcoin 2 lol. I mean, there are limits outside of pure theory.

Any significantly advanced cryptocurrency is indistinguishable from Ponzi Tulips.
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February 14, 2012, 04:35:42 PM
 #18

Would this be a valid attack? Imagine Goldman Sachs & friends buy a large amount of all the available Bitcoins, park them - and throw away all information where they are parked.

The money it would cost would be peanuts for them (a fraction of their bailout money Wink ... and "Problem Bitcoin" would be solved before it's getting to big.

In related news Microsoft announced a new plan to undermine Apple by buying 20 million ipods and destroying them.  Apple's stock up 200%, Microsoft down 90%.

P.S:  The entire Bitcoin network could run on a single Bitcoin.
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February 14, 2012, 04:39:30 PM
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Would this be a valid attack? Imagine Goldman Sachs & friends buy a large amount of all the available Bitcoins, park them - and throw away all information where they are parked.

The money it would cost would be peanuts for them (a fraction of their bailout money Wink ... and "Problem Bitcoin" would be solved before it's getting to big.

In related news Microsoft announced a new plan to undermine Apple by buying 20 million ipods and destroying them.  Apple's stock up 200%, Microsoft down 90%.

P.S:  The entire Bitcoin network could run on a single Bitcoin.
I missed the part about destroying the bitcoin. In that case, yeah one Bitcoin or even satoshi would suffice.

Any significantly advanced cryptocurrency is indistinguishable from Ponzi Tulips.
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February 14, 2012, 06:28:47 PM
 #20

Lost coins are one of the reasons I feel like the block rewards should have tapered off gradually, and settled down to an eventual minimum amount (Even if it was just 1 coin).

The more bitcoins in circulation, the lower the percentage of inflation the block reward represents.  However, the larger the number of coins in circulation, the more likely it is for instances of lost coins to appear.  Eventually, those two numbers would balance out and you'd have an approximate number of coins continuously in circulation.

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