In the previous story, "The final total amount of Bitcoin is not 21 million", we mentioned that it is not uncommon to not claim the full block reward due to some purpose or an error in the mining software. According to information provided by Coin Metrics, such incidents first appeared in the 124724 block of May 2011 (that is, midnightmagic intentionally discarded the 1 satoshi block in tribute to Satoshi Nakamoto), and the last occurred in 2019 Block 564959 in late February; cumulative loss of 28.95502763 BTC.
BTC output value of the first 600,000 blocks of the Bitcoin network (data from: Coin Metrics)
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These 29 bitcoins, like the 50 BTC of the genesis block, do not exist in the Bitcoin ledger, cannot be used, and will be permanently lost in the network. However, the loss of coins due to the negligence of the Bitcoin protocol is not the only one. In the early days, some people used coinbase transactions to be easily copied and created two pairs of coins with the same coinbase output. 100 BTC is overwritten and cannot appear in the UTXO set. In response to this, Bitcoin developers introduced BIP-30 in 2012, stipulating that the output must include the height of the block to which they belong, making it more difficult to copy coinbase.
On the other hand, in order to regulate the behavior of writing additional data into transactions, the Bitcoin protocol also introduced OP_RETURN later. This opcode allows users to embed data in the blockchain, which improves the situation where previous transaction content appears confusing. Although the vast majority of OP_RETURN outputs are created with 0 Satoshi, some are not. As of the 600,000th block (ie 08:04, October 19, 2019, Beijing time), a total of 3.723039 BTC was sent to OP_RETURN; similarly, these bitcoins are no longer part of the network because they are no longer available used.
In addition to the bitcoins mentioned above that can be proven to have been lost forever, there are many bitcoins in the network that are sinking for various strange reasons. In a discussion initiated by Bitcoin talk user SgtSpike in the forum in 2011 alone, about 135,000 bitcoins could not be recovered.
Screenshot from: New post created by netizen SgtSpike on the Bitcointalk forum on May 4, 2011
The last Solitaire statistics in the post (screenshot from: reply from netnight midnightmagic on the Bitcointalk forum on June 24, 2016)
In this post titled "Let's add up the KNOWN lost bitcoin", netizens' experiences about losing coins can be described as strange; for example, Lynzoi, who cannot retrieve the private key due to a hard disk crash, and mistakenly lost when backing up wallet files to a flash drive 8,900 Bitcoin Stone Man, and some users who sent BTC to fake addresses.
In general, we start with a known private key and then convert it to obtain the corresponding public key and address; but the fake address is an address that has no known private key. Therefore, unless someone is lucky enough to randomly guess the correct combination of their corresponding private keys, the Bitcoins in these addresses will also be lost forever.
Some fake addresses (data from "How Many Bitcoins Are Permanently")
It is worth mentioning that there are still large amounts of bitcoin known to be stolen that are not included in the netizens' replies to this post, but are mentioned by most people and considered temporarily lost. Take the 2011 stolen bitcoin of Mt.Gox, for example, the 79,965 BTC stolen by the hacker from the exchange at that time is still lying in the seventh richest address on the entire network. Perhaps before a better coin mixing or privacy solution appears, these large amounts of bitcoin afraid of being tracked will be difficult to enter into circulation again. If you add these BTCs that are temporarily lost, the current network may have 1.6 million bitcoins that cannot be awakened again (data from: Coin Metrics).