In Newport, Wales, a man named James Howells made headlines after making a fatal mistake. He had no idea at the time what it would cost him, but it added up to nearly everything he knew. The invention of cryptocurrency has been so good to so many people. Too bad not everyone’s story is the same.
James Howells was a systems engineer who answered calls to service emergency-response systems throughout the various communities surrounding him. He lived in Newport with his fiancee and their three kids when he learned about the new cryptocurrency known as Bitcoin. Of course, it was worth nothing back then, but Howells found it fun to use his gaming laptop at night while he was asleep to do some mining.
He was one of the first miners throughout the world. His small operation only lasted a few months when he noticed the electric bill wasn’t worth the effort. When he stopped his operation, his wallet had accumulated 8,000 Bitcoin. That’s nearly half a billion dollars today.
Years went by, and naturally, things got lost in the mix over time. First, the hard drive was removed from the original laptop for the mining operation. Then, stored with another empty hard drive, both were collecting dust. Eventually, Howells threw them in a trash bag to take to the landfill. That night, as he put his head to his pillow, James Howells remembered the hard drive that he had used for Bitcoin mining and made a mental note to dig it back out of the trash when he woke up the following day.
However, James woke to find that his fiancee had taken the trash to the landfill when she took the kids to school. OOPS! Howells immediately regretted his forgetfulness. He had thrown away the one thing that would have changed his life forever.
When he visited the landfill, the manager felt for him and walked him to the highest spot in the dump. There, Howells felt even greater regret as he watched soil churning with trash in a vast expanse of land the size of six football fields. But he didn’t give up. Howells was determined to find his cryptocurrency, but the city was against him. He saw their response to his situation as unbelievable. As the value of Bitcoin kept growing, the town became more aloof to his plight.
In a conversation with New Yorker staff writer D.T. Max, Howells theorized that the city has probably rejected his requests to excavate the landfill for a reason. Perhaps, due to the environmental regulations, the site had not been following, adding, “Who knows how many dirty baby nappies are buried out there?”
Howells has gone down many roads and knocked on many doors to find solutions to retrieve his hard drive. Still to this day, he has had no success. In fact, over the years, he has lost more than just a hard drive. His fiancee left him and took the children with her. They’ve grown up and are interested in other things, naturally.
On top of all that, he no longer works as a systems engineer. In fact, he is unemployed. His life has stood still as time has passed. The dust has collected throughout his home, and the pictures on the walls tell the story of better times, long gone. Yet, he still hopes to gain the permission he needs to search for his hard drive one day. This is his hope, even as more garbage accumulates every day.
At Byte Federal, we try to bring you great stories of fortune and innovation as the Bitcoin movement marches forward. But today, we felt the need to bring you a story of a different kind. Bitcoin has the potential to change everyone’s lives, but it’s that important to keep it secure.
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