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Who Created Bitcoin? The Mystery of Satoshi NakamotoMany have tried to identify the creator of Bitcoin, but he/she/they still remain elusive.
Unmasking Satoshi Nakamoto and answering the question 'who created Bitcoin?' is the biggest mystery of modern times, and it's even more baffling given that they left no trace of their identity behind on the internet.
What do we really know about Satoshi Nakamoto? Well, according to Satoshi's verified P2P online profile, their birthday is April 5, 1975, suggesting they recently turned 46 years old.
What else do we know with certainty about the Bitcoin creator?
- Satoshi was heavily inspired by the 'cypherpunks', a group of activists advocating for strong cryptography and privacy-enhancing technologies to facilitate social and political change. The movement was heavily centered around California and gained momentum in the early 1990s. Satoshi knew of many popular members such as David Chaum of Digicash, Hal Finney, Adam Back and others. Some even suggest Satoshi is someone within the cypherpunk community,
- The domain name bitcoin.com was registered in August 2008 and the white paper was released in October 2008,
- An early version of Bitcoin's code had a P2P market and virtual poker game,
- Satoshi wrote in perfect British English (spelling "colour" instead of "color" and using British phrases such as "bloody hard"). Also, a headline from the British newspaper The Times was embedded into the first Bitcoin block,
- Satoshi was proficient in C++ coding, economics and cryptography,
- Satoshi was mostly active on bitcointalk during the hours of 5pm-10pm (British Summer Time). Satoshi's code contributions and comments were more frequent in the summer and winter months, while tapering off in spring and at the end of the year, suggesting Bitcoin's creator may be an academic,
- Satoshi mined Bitcoin in the early days, and is estimated to hold as much as 600,000 BTC (which has never been moved),
- Satoshi's last email communication was on April 23, 2011, telling Bitcoin developer Mike Hearn that he was “moving onto other things”,
NSA/Rogue Government EntitiesThe NSA put out their own paper for a digital currency back in 1996. Many of the elements of Bitcoin are there and looking at the screenshot below, we can see the paper was received October 31, 1996. The Bitcoin white paper was also released on the same day (October 31), but 12 years later. Perhaps some rogue elements in the government created Bitcoin and decided to do the world a favour!
While Bitcoin resulted from decades of research and work, the impeccable timing of the cryptocurrency's launch during the Global Financial Crisis in 2007-2008 leads some people to suspect that elements of the government were behind it. Some skeptics think digital currency could be the perfect Trojan horse to lead us into a cashless society with a traceable, one world currency, since all transfers can be tracked on Bitcoin's transparent blockchain.
For instance, one skeptic is Natalya Kaspersky, CEO of the InfoWatch group of companies and co-founder of Kaspersky Lab. In 2018, Kaspersky delivered a presentation with one slide reading, "Bitcoin is a project of American intelligence agencies, which was designed to provide quick funding for US, British and Canadian intelligence activities in different countries." Although no evidence was presented to back up this claim.
The major problem with the 'NSA created Bitcoin' theory is that the work required to build Bitcoin was a natural progression from what the cypherpunks achieved, and the cryptocurrency has great potential to threaten the status quo.
Hal FinneyHal Finney was the recipient of the first ever Bitcoin transaction, the first person to Tweet about Bitcoin and the first person to help Satoshi with the idea once it was posted on the Cryptography Mailing List.
Some people think that Satoshi and Hal are the same person which would make sense given Finney's background in encryption and the cypherpunk movement. Hal Finney was part of Phil Zimmerman's Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) Corporation as a developer. PGP was one of the first projects that made public-key cryptography accessible to everyone, allowing individuals to communicate securely on the internet.
Years later, in 2004, Finney created Reusable Proof of Work (RPOW), a building block that Satoshi would later incorporate into Bitcoin mining. Hal continued to program until his unfortunate passing away in August 2014, working on bcflick which was a piece of software that used Trusted Computing to secure Bitcoin wallets. The disapperance of Satoshi lines up nicely with Finney's retirement from PGP Corporation in 2011, which is the same year in which the Bitcoin creator handed over control of the project to Gavin Andressen.
Shinichi MochizukiWhile Shinichi Mochizuki is not that young, he certainly is a man of Japanese ancestry who is brilliant and very smart, as Hal Finney remarked. Mochizuki obtained a Bachelor’s degree, and then a PhD, in mathematics. He is currently a professor at Kyoto University who focuses purely on research and, unlike most university professors, does not lecture at all.
The first person to link Satoshi to Shinichi Mochizuki was Hypertext co-founder, Ted Nelson, who stated in 2013 that he believes the Japanese mathematician and number theorist is the creator of Bitcoin.
Nick SzaboNick Szabo is a computer engineer and legal scholar who pioneered the concept of smart contracts in the mid-1990s. Szabo also created bit gold in 1998, a predecessor to Bitcoin that was never launched, but was the closest anyone had gotten to creating a peer-to-peer digital currency until that point. The digital currency scheme was published on his blog, Unenumerated, in 2005.
However, if you look at the page on his blog, we see the permalink implies the article was published in December 2005 (3 years before the Bitcoin white paper), but the timestamp of the article was changed form December 29, 2005 to December 27, 2008. This peculiar fact possibly hints at Szabo changing the date to make it seem as if bit gold had come after bitcoin. It doesn't seem like a mistake, so why would have Szabo changed the timestamp of his article all those years later?
Paul Le RouxPaul Calder Le Roux was identified as a Satoshi candidate in early 2019 by journalist Evan Ratcliff. Le Roux was a former cartel boss, DEA informant, and software programmer, but is now in jail after being arrested in 2012 for charges such as drug trafficking, hacking and money laundering.
The first breadcrumb leading to Le Roux came from the Kleiman v. Wright lawsuit. A bit of backstory first: Craig Wright and Dave Kleiman were business partners who mined bitcoin together, before Kleiman died in April 2013. The lawsuit is all about the family trying to reclaim the bitcoins that belong to Kleiman from Craig Wright. In the lawsuit, Wright filed a motion for a protective order, which contained lots of redactions.
Adam BackYoutuber Barely Sociable released a three-part documentary on Bitcoin’s creator in January 2020, called The Most Elusive Person on the Internet. It's an interesting watch, with the documentary claiming that Adam Back, CEO of Blockstream and creator of HashCash, is Satoshi Nakamoto.
Satoshi Remains ElusiveWho is Satoshi Nakamoto? It's the biggest mystery of modern times, and the case of identifying Bitcoin's creator remains wide open. Our list is by no means exhaustive, but we have covered the most likely candidates.
We all desire to know who Satoshi is because they are likely sitting on a big stash of bitcoins, which may never move, may be lost forever or could be used in the future for a particular purpose that noone has foreseen yet.