One of the greatest mysteries of the 21st century is the identity of Bitcoin’s creator. It has been eleven years since the best thing since the internet happened to the human race, but the debate rages on: Who is Satoshi Nakamoto? Does the pseudonym represent a person or an entity? Why is he or they not interested in stepping into the limelight?
The questions surrounding this mystery are plenty. But if you were to invent something that challenges the systems that governments and financial institutions have been running for years, you would probably want to remain anonymous too. What’s more, Bitcoin is the money of the people. If the limelight had been on a person or entity, the greatness of Bitcoin may have been lost.
So, how did it all start?
Remember those times you have thought of a brilliant idea only to learn that other people have thought of it too? Well, you and I are in the majority. However, Satoshi and George R. R. Martin are in the minority group of people that come up with fresh and revolutionary ideas.
While the concept of decentralized and anonymous digital cash was not new, Satoshi managed to create the first working product of its kind that has opened up an entirely new economy. The unique achievement of Bitcoin compared to earlier digital money inventions like Bit Gold was the elimination of trusted parties and the removal of double-spending through a peer-to-peer network.
Satoshi Nakamoto was not among the group of programmers that were discussing digital money on lists like Cypherpunks in the 90s. At least, he was not going by that name at the time.
When digital money was a hot topic among programmers and inventions like Hashcash, B-Money, and Bit Gold were coming up, Satoshi must have been working on a project of his own. Before sending Adam Back his e-cash paper via an email in August or July 2008, Satoshi had probably already programmed Bitcoin. Back is perhaps the first person Satoshi talked to about Bitcoin.
That same year in October, Satoshi published a message on the Cryptography Mailing List. In his message, Satoshi shared a link of the Bitcoin whitepaper and the coin’s properties. After this announcement, Satoshi went ahead to release several versions of Bitcoin as he upgraded it from one level to the next.
Seeing that Bitcoin was gaining traction, Satoshi made his last private communication in May 2011. In an email to Martti Malmi, he said: “I’ve moved on to other things and probably won’t be around in the future.” And just like that, Satoshi disappeared.
Satoshi’s vision was simple: take trusted third parties out of the transactional picture and eliminate double-spending. In his paper, he writes: “We propose a solution to the double-spending problem using a peer-to-peer distributed timestamp server to generate computational proof of the chronological order of transactions. The system is secure as long as honest nodes collectively control more CPU power than any cooperating group of attacker nodes.”
Note the use of the word “we” in the paper, evidence that several people could have contributed to the creation of Bitcoin.
His vision was to enable two people to make transactions directly without the need for a financial institution. Bitcoin, therefore, gave control back to the people.
So, who is Satoshi Nakamoto?
The media has published plenty of theories explaining that several people are Satoshi Nakamoto. According to a 2014 Newsweek article, Leah Goodman mentions the similarities between Satoshi Nakamoto and a Japanese-American man with the same name. These similarities include age, preference to privacy and working alone, and computer knowledge.
According to people that communicated with Satoshi Nakamoto, he seemed older. Furthermore, his code-writing style was old school and his code was messy. This could mean that he did not have a team to help him clean it up.
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The Japanese-American man that is supposedly Satoshi changed his name to Dorian Prentice Satoshi Nakamoto in 1973. While speaking to Goodman, Dorian said: "I am no longer involved in that and I cannot discuss it. It's been turned over to other people. They are in charge of it now. I no longer have any connection." Briefly after this interview, Dorian through his attorney denied his role in Bitcoin.
However, Craig Wright is not as modest. The Australian Computer Scientist claims he is the “main part of the team that created Bitcoin.” The evidence he has produced to prove that he played a part in creating Bitcoin has, nevertheless, failed to hold water.
Although some people in the crypto community consider him a fraud, the man has become a vocal personality in the industry. Interestingly, Wright claims to own a Bitcoin address that holds 80,000 BTC stolen from the exchange Mt. Gox. The controversial man has, however, denied hacking Mt. Gox.
Nick Szabo, the Computer Engineer behind Bit Gold and the first person to propose smart contracts has the highest probability of being Satoshi Nakamoto. Here is why.
Firstly, Bit Gold and Bitcoin have several similarities. Secondly, the Bitcoin whitepaper mentions Hashcash and B-money but fails to mention Bit Gold. This could mean that Szabo is the creator of Bitcoin. Still, Szabo has denied his involvement in inventing the cryptocurrency.
John McAfee, the founder of software company McAfee, claims that a team of 11 people worked for five years and eventually created Bitcoin. Although McAfee is not naming names, he thinks Wright was part of that team.
McAfee decoded the mystery from the following clues:
· The use of British English over American English in the whitepaper. This, however, does not seem entirely accurate. The paper has used both versions.
· The document format is similar to other published works making it easy to figure out the identity of Satoshi.
McAfee alleges that he spoke to the author of the whitepaper on the phone. The author asked him to conceal his identity.
Other theories have suggested names like Co-Founder of Stellar Jed McCaleb, Computer Scientists Michael Peirce and Donal O’Mahony, Security Researcher Dustin D. Trammell, and Professor Shinichi Mochizuki.
Character Profile and Other Tidbits
Satoshi Nakamoto is supposedly from Japan and his date of birth is April 5, 1975. He might have a British background due to his use of British English in the Whitepaper. However, his writing and coding style could suggest that he is much older. For instance, he typed the whitepaper with a double space after every period, an old school trait common with academics, people who have worked in the military, or anyone who types in an old-style typewriter.
When Satoshi registered bitcoin.org, he used a Japanese registration service that was anonymous and hosted it using an ISP based in that country. The site’s registration was moved to Finland in 2011.
As written on the bitcoin.org “About” page, Satoshi and Martti Malmi originally registered and owned the site. When he left the scene, Satoshi transferred domain ownership to several people. Martti Malmi is from Finland.
Some people believe Satoshi lives in tech city San Francisco. Also, rumors say that perhaps he works for the US government. But why would a government build a digital currency that works against the financial system it controls?
In my opinion, however, all the known “facts” about Satoshi appear to have been planted intentionally. His actions from the very beginning were premeditated. From the choice of name to his disappearance, everything seems well-planned. It appears that Satoshi has intentionally misled us to think he is someone he is not. He wants to keep his identity a secret and he went to great lengths to do it. For example, he only communicated on email and never on the phone.
Additionally, Satoshi does not want to overshadow Bitcoin. He wants us to concentrate on the product, not the creator. Imagine the media storm that would have swept the world if we knew his identity. Subsequently, we could say he is selfless. He created something for the greater good and exited the scene. Bitcoin’s code is open-source which means that anyone can improve it. Satoshi, therefore, set the stage for other developers to shine.
Besides being mysterious, Satoshi is super-rich. If he holds one million Bitcoin, Satoshi is worth 9.5 billion US dollars today. This makes him richer than Kylie Jenner but not as rich as Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates.
One more significant piece of information about Satoshi is that he is working on other things. This could mean that he is putting together something as big as Bitcoin or bigger. Conversely, he probably retired to a Caribbean island where he enjoys the occasional mojito.
A Look at the Name
The common belief is that Satoshi Nakamoto is a pseudonym. In Japanese, Satoshi Nakamoto means “Central Intelligence.” However, this Decentro article thinks that the meaning is a “far stretch” from the many possible meanings.
For example, Nakamoto could mean “a book in the process of happening” or a "foundation or origin in the process of happening." On the other hand, Satoshi could mean clever or intellectual. Also, it could translate to birthplace or one’s origin.
Put together, Satoshi Nakamoto could mean the “origins of what is coming next, clever intention, or a clever chronicling of history as a book that is in the process of happening.”
Another school of thought suggests that Satoshi Nakamoto was derived from Samsung, Toshiba, Nakamichi, and Motorola. The first two words create Satoshi and the last form Nakamoto.
Bitcoin’s creator could have used Japanese for a pseudonym because it is difficult to translate. The Japanese characters that form Satoshi Nakamoto have multiple meanings. Furthermore, it could indicate that he has an attachment to Japanese culture.
Satoshi Rises from the Ashes?
In May 2020, someone moved 50BTC for the first time in eleven years. The action spooked the market resulting in a 2.3 percent price slump.
The coins were mined in 2009, a month after the genesis block was added to the chain. This means that the owner of the coins is someone involved with Bitcoin from the early days. One such person could be Satoshi Nakamoto.
The 50BTC was moved to two addresses. However, the transaction path is difficult to trace from this point indicating that the person involved wanted anonymity. Whether or not the person behind the move is Satoshi is unclear.
It is worth noting that the funds are only a small fraction of the early-mined coins. According to Crypto Researcher Sergio Lerner, Satoshi holds about a million Bitcoin but Bitmex calculates that the sum is about 700,000. Satoshi is holding the Bitcoin in different wallets.
Does the Face Behind the Name Matter?
No, it does not and Satoshi agrees! The purpose of Bitcoin and the impact it continues to make is far greater than the identity of the creator. Satoshi Nakamoto did not create Bitcoin for himself. He created it for the masses.
The Bitcoin community has been using Bitcoin with complete loyalty without caring much about the inventor. The community does not want the creator unmasked.
A lot has taken place since the release of Bitcoin in 2009 indicating that the world is more interested in the product than the inventor just as Satoshi wished.
Even so, it is all good in the Bitcoin world until you remember that Satoshi holds a large amount of Bitcoin. If he decided to sell all his coins today, the market would suffer a huge hit. The impact of moving 50BTC is a good example of what could occur. The recent action could cause Bitcoin holders to worry as they wonder if another large sum of Bitcoin will be moved.
Still, knowing Satoshi’s identity might not help Bitcoin holders if he decided to sell. The impact could remain the same.
We do not know whether Satoshi is an odd guy living a humble life in LA or a group of people that are pretty good at keeping secrets and that is okay.
What is important is that we know what Bitcoin is and we can attest that it is real. As it happens, Redeeem pays it's staff all in Bitcoin!
For now, all we can say to Satoshi Nakamoto is: “Stay low, do not move your Bitcoin, and thank you!”