Sydney-based technology journalist Campbell Simpson details his story of throwing away a hard drive containing 1400 bitcoin 5 years ago.
“I Paypal’d Some Random Stranger From the Other Side of the World a Few US Dollars for a Digital Transaction of an Effectively Worthless Faux-Currency”
In 2010 Campbell spent $25 purchasing tokens distributed by a then obscure, unknown, and predominantly academic project called bitcoin. In exchange for this apparently foolhardy decision, Campbell was sent 1400 bitcoins.
To be honest, the details are a bit foggy these days” states Campbell. “I Paypal’d some random stranger from the other side of the world a few US dollars for a digital transaction of an effectively worthless faux-currency.”
During 2010 bitcoin to fiat trade was virtually nonexistent. The majority of the bitcoin community were miners, mostly tech nerds or academics were involved in the project for reasons of curiosity. Campbell’s interest was sparked after reading an article about bitcoin – prompting him to purchase the nascent cryptocurrency simply to understand it better.
Approximately one year later Campbell was moving house and decided to use the opportunity to “clean up some of the accumulated tech detritus that comes with being a technology journalist. USB sticks, 3D glasses, USB cables, PC components. All that sort of literal junk. A pile of junk that went into a skip.”
Campbell Sees His Mistake as Only a Minor Regret
Upon realization of his blunder, Campbell was very calm, describing that “it wasn’t a big deal. It was one of those “aw, crap” moments that happen to everyone on a semi-regular basis. I got a parking ticket, I forgot to send a birthday card to a friend overseas, that kind of thing. Without the benefit of hindsight, of course, it wasn’t that big a deal… Bitcoin was a fun fad.”
In recent years bitcoin has irrefutably proved itself not to be a ‘fun fad’. For Campbell, he genuinely isn’t that upset by knowing that there is a hard drive sitting in a landfill with $3.5 million USD on it that used to be in his possession. “Time has been kind of the price of Bitcoin. Every now and then since… I’ve checked the price. Bitcoin has become pretty popular since 2011. And I’ve done a bit of back-of-the-napkin calculation, and – sometimes, not every time – had a bit of a quiet moment and a shake of my head.”
Moving forward, Campbell sees his mistake as only a minor regret. Perhaps knowing that he would have sold his BTC when a single bitcoin was worth approximately $2.50 each helps reconcile the hypothetical loss. “I don’t even especially want to find those Bitcoin, though. I’m really happy with my life at the moment. I don’t need them. I’d like them, sure, but I don’t need them. This isn’t trying to get philosophical – the real value was in the friends we made along the way, or some crap like that… I spent $25 on some Bitcoin. When I realised what I’d lost, they were worth about $4000. If you wanted to put a dollar figure on the anguish that I feel, it’d be somewhere between those two. Definitely not in the realm of millions of dollars. It’s mostly a fun story that I trot out every now and then, and occasionally pretend to be mock-upset about, and only occasionally actually upset.”