Hard Drive Worth £5M in Bitcoins Lost in a Landfill

December 27, 2013

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. regret [ri-GRET] (v.) – to feel bad or be sorry for something
Example: Dan regrets that he bought expensive but useless things.

2. spill [spil] (v.) – to make something fall or spread
Example: The keyboard is not working anymore because he spilled water on it.

3. retrieve [ri-TREEV] (v.) – to get something back
Example: The programmer retrieved the files by clicking the “restore” button.

4. mud [muhd] (n.) – soft and wet soil or dirt
Example: The computer room of our school was filled with mud because of the typhoon.

5. access [AK-ses] (v.) – to enter or open
Example: Computer hackers can fully access even the most secured websites.


Read the text below.
An Australian IT worker regrets throwing away a computer hard drive that could make him an instant millionaire.

James Howells of New South Wales garnered 7,500 units worth of virtual currency called Bitcoins. Bitcoins were designed by a Japanese programmer in 2009 to be used for buying products online. A Bitcoin’s rate is dependent on people’s demand for it. From the rate of £1.50, its rate reached £664 or around one thousand US dollars today.

Howells accidentally spilled lemonade on his laptop, seriously damaging it. He disassembled the computer in 2010 and kept the hard drive where the digital cash is stored. In the middle of 2012, he decided to throw it away thinking that it has no importance anymore.

He admitted how bad his idea was when he learned that the current value of his Bitcoins could make him earn approximately £5 million. When the workers from a dumpsite in Newport, South Wales, told him that it could be buried under four feet of mud and garbage, it became almost impossible to retrieve the hard drive.

Despite the value of the hard drive device, Howells is not worried about someone finding it. However, he hopes that the lucky person who will get it will share a decent amount to him.

On another note, the hard drive will need a digital key to access the digital wallet stored in it, and only Howells has the code.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Do you think someone will get Howells’ hard drive? Why or why not?
·         If you were Howells, will you start generating Bitcoins again with its current value? Please explain.

Discussion B

·         How did the Internet change business transactions?
·         With the internet, is it more efficient to conduct business today? Please explain your answer.


December 27, 2013