Where there's muck there's bitcoins

Summary:U.K. man accidentally sends his hard drive to the dump, forgetting it was full of digital currency worth $7.5 million.

Never has the old English expression "where's there's muck there's brass" been more true. 

For those of you not familiar with those wise words: They come from the northern county of Yorkshire,  where "brass" is slang for money, and "muck" is, well, muck. Dirty work can yield riches.

That's the task facing James Howell from the Welsh city of Newport, after he threw out a computer hard drive forgetting that it was full of bitcoins that are now worth around $7.5 million, the BBC reports.

The 7,500 virtual coins - which are a form of digital currency - were valued at around $20 when he first "obtained" them in 2009, the story notes. 

I'm a bit fuzzy on how one acquires bitcoins, but my understanding is you don't necessarily just purchase them. Rather, you can apply some computer wizardry involving algorithms, searches and data mining, and if you're successful, you are the proud new owner of the things.

For Howell, then, bitcoins have perhaps been a case of not-so-easy-come, but easy-go.

He'll be lucky if he ever gets them back. The hard drive is now buried as much as five feet deep in a Newport landfill that's the size of a football field. Howell chucked out the hardware sometime over the last year, and only recalled its contents when recent press reports about bitcoins' surging value jogged his memory.

Sounds like a business opportunity for a bitcoin divining rod.

Cover photo by Cezary P via Wikimedia

A bit more on the digital currency:

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

Topics: Innovation

About

Mark Halper has written for TIME, Fortune, Financial Times, the UK's Independent on Sunday, Forbes, New York Times, Wired, Variety and The Guardian. He is based in Bristol, U.K. Follow him on Twitter.

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