Stefan Thomas, a German-born programmer living in San Francisco,
has two guesses left to figure out a password that is worth, as of
this week, about $220 million.
The password will let him unlock a small hard drive, known as an
IronKey, which contains the private keys to a digital wallet that
holds 7,002 Bitcoin. While the price of Bitcoin dropped sharply on
Monday, it is still up more than 50 percent from just a month ago,
when it passed its previous all-time high of around $20,000.
The problem is that Mr. Thomas years ago lost the paper where he
wrote down the password for his IronKey, which gives users 10
guesses before it seizes up and encrypts its contents forever. He
has since tried eight of his most commonly used password
formulations — to no avail.
“I would just lay in bed and think about it,” Mr. Thomas said.
“Then I would go to the computer with some new strategy, and it
wouldn’t work, and I would be desperate again.”