Crypto Knowledge

Who Is Satoshi Nakamoto?

who is satoshi nakamoto

Satoshi Nakamoto represents the pseudonym used by the anonymous creator of Bitcoin. He is the person, or group of people, responsible for writing the “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System” white paper and coding the cryptocurrency’s first reference implementation. As such, he’s also the developer of the world’s first modern blockchain, the decentralized, peer-to-peer network that makes the Bitcoin payment system possible. Nakamoto was involved in the development of Bitcoin until December 2010, when he then disappeared without a trace.

History

Granted the sheer size of the Bitcoin market and community, numerous people want to know who Satoshi Nakamoto is. Being Bitcoin’s inventor and having his identity still unknown makes Bitcoin more mysterious, especially considering how Satoshi isn’t here to share his opinion on how the cryptocurrency should evolve. Through his invention, Satoshi has pioneered the future of the financial industry, so in this article, we will talk about his achievements, how he developed Bitcoin, and who Satoshi might be.

While he was still active in the development of the cryptocurrency, Nakamoto stated that he began working on the project sometime in 2007, and in October of the following year, the Satoshi Nakamoto white paper was released, describing Bitcoin in detail. One year later, in January 2009, he created the BitcoinTalk.org forum, which remains the internet’s biggest digital currency discussion forum and an essential part of the cryptocurrency community. At a point in the early stage of development, Nakamoto created a P2P Foundation profile, where he stated his birthdate as the of April 5, 1975, and that he was a man who lived in Japan.

How Was Bitcoin Developed?

While there is little known about Satoshi’s identity, there is quite a bit of information available regarding how he developed Bitcoin. The public first heard about his invention in October 2008, when Nakamoto published the Bitcoin whitepaper on a cryptography email list. The initial publishing didn’t cause much of a buzz, but several developers read the white paper and became interested in the project.

After his white paper was published, Nakamoto continued working on the Bitcoin source code, until January 2009, when he launched Bitcoin’s core software. Once the software was released to the public, the Bitcoin blockchain network also came online, hence giving birth to the world’s first Bitcoin.

On the 3rd of January, 2009, Satoshi mined the genesis block of Bitcoin, which was the first block of transactions to ever be added onto the blockchain network. The Bitcoin protocol immediately rewarded him with the block reward of 50 Bitcoin. For Satoshi Nakamoto, this must have boosted his net worth massively! But did it really? Actually, no, because at that time Bitcoin was valued at practically zero.

An interesting aspect worth pointing out is that Satoshi’s first transaction also came with text, reading, “The Times 03/Jan/2009 Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks.” Numerous people have shared their opinions on the meaning behind the text. The actual text is a headline published in Times Magazine, on the date when the genesis block was mined. It is believed to be a comment concerning the increasing frictions caused by banks adopting fractional-reserve protocols.

How Much Is Satoshi Nakamoto Worth?

There has been a bit of controversy concerning whether the block in question was really the first. However, the respective block is different from all other transaction blocks present on the blockchain, since its header doesn’t contain any reference of a previous block. There’s cryptographic proof showing that Nakamoto wasn’t interested in mining all of the early blocks for himself—after all, there was no purpose in doing so—by that time, only a few people had heard about Bitcoin.

For the next ten days, Satoshi remained the sole miner of the cryptocurrency. So how many Bitcoins does Satoshi Nakamoto have? He has managed to gather approximately one million coins. While their value was close to zero at that time, it’s estimated that he is currently worth around $7 billion, making him one of the wealthiest people in the world. Back in December 2019, the coins were valued at over $19 billion, so it can safely be confirmed that Satoshi is the richest Bitcoin owner.

Following the mining of the genesis block, Satoshi continued to be involved in the development of the digital currency for a while. It is believed that he never met in person with other developers, and only communicated via encrypted email services. Later on, Satoshi Nakamoto registered the Bitcoin.org domain and created the first Bitcoin website.

From this point onwards, Satoshi began getting less involved in Bitcoin’s development and started looking for capable developers and community members who could replace him. Halfway through 2010, Satoshi gave developer Gavin Andersen control of the source code repository and the currency’s network alert rate. Additionally, he also transferred the Bitcoin.org and BitcoinTalk.org domains to other members of the community. Shortly after, he vanished and completely stopped his work on the Bitcoin code.

Who Is Satoshi Nakamoto? Theories and Possible Identities

While working with the first developers of the Bitcoin project, Satoshi avoided disclosing any personal information about himself and kept all discussions strictly technical. Despite this, people have analyzed his behavior, and there are several things we think we know.

First, earlier in the article, we mentioned that on the P2P Foundation profile, Satoshi claimed to be Japanese. However, numerous members of the Bitcoin community think this isn’t true, granted his excellent command of English and no actual proof that the person who invented Bitcoin knows Japanese.

For instance, Stefan Thomas, a Swiss coder and Bitcoin enthusiast, studied the timestamps of Satoshi’s forum posts and emails. Most messages were sent at odd hours for someone living in Japan. Of course, we can’t judge a person’s sleep habits, but Satoshi often used British spelling, so there are some who believe he may be from the United Kingdom or one of the Commonwealth countries.

At this moment in time, there’s no answer to Who are the owners of Bitcoin? Some have claimed to be behind the identity, yet no proof was provided. The Bitcoin community has actively tried to find Satoshi, thus giving birth to several theories of his identity.

Nick Szabo

Nick Szabo is an American of Hungarian descent and has been linked to the Bitcoin white paper by a blogger using an analysis method called stylometric analysis. So to many, he is the most plausible answer to the question, Who is Satoshi Nakamoto? What’s interesting about Szabo is that he is a fan of decentralized currencies, and he even published a white paper on Bit gold, which is an early precursor to Bitcoin that never caught on.  

In a press statement made in 2011, Szabo stated that “Myself, Wei Dai, and Hal Finney were the only people I know of who liked the idea (referring to Bitcoin) enough to pursue it to any significant extent until Nakamoto.” There’s also limited evidence that Szabo liked using pseudonyms. Despite this, he denied the claims that he is Satoshi Nakamoto, and no proof has been provided so far. When confronted, Szabo answered, “thanks for letting me know. I’m afraid you got it wrong, doxing me as Satoshi, but I’m used to it.”

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Dorian Nakamoto

What if Satoshi Nakamoto isn’t a pseudonym at all? Back in 2014, in a highly mediatized article, a journalist launched another theory, claiming that Dorian Prentice Satoshi Nakamoto, who is a Japanese-American US citizen, might be the creator of Bitcoin. The theory makes sense for two reasons: his name and his past. Nakamoto is a computer scientist, who worked on several classified defense engineering projects, as well as for a financial information and services company.

Nakamoto was reportedly laid off from two of his jobs back in the 1990s and took on more libertarian views. When asked whether he was the Bitcoin founder, Nakamoto stated, “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.” This statement quickly generated hype, and he later clarified that he misunderstood the question, thinking that the reporter was asking him about his work as a military contractor. He also mentioned that he’d never heard of the cryptocurrency before.

Shortly after, the P2P Foundation account associated with the real Bitcoin creator posted a message, after years of inactivity. The respective message read: “I am not Dorian Nakamoto.” So far, it is unknown whether the account was hacked or if it was really Satoshi. However, the Bitcoin community believes that Satoshi understands he needs to provide proof, so he would sign any message using his original encryption key.

Craig Wright

Another possible identity for the Bitcoin creator is Craig Wright. However, things are a bit complicated here, as Wright claimed he was Nakamoto Satoshi yet failed to provide evidence. He is an Australian academic, a computer scientist, and a businessman. Following his statement, he generated a lot of media buzz. Shortly after, news outlets published an article containing email evidence that would link Craig Wright and a decreased computer forensics analyst to the creation of Bitcoin.

As Wright shut down his Twitter account and refused to provide acceptable proof of his claim, the majority of the Bitcoin community started believing that the claim was nothing but an elaborate hoax. Despite this, Gavin Andersen and Jon Matonis, two prominent members of the Bitcoin community, support Wright’s claim. Given his background, he sounds like a plausible candidate, but there is a lack of cryptographic proof.

A Secret Group

So far, we’ve only referred to Satoshi Nakamoto as an individual. However, another likely scenario is that Bitcoin was created by a group of people, financial institution, government agency, or business. This would explain many inconsistencies and why no one has been able to prove they have a direct link to the creation of the cryptocurrency.

Analysis of Satoshi’s style failed to yield sufficient results, and there are several differences in the recounts of those involved in the early development of Bitcoin. An interesting theory talks about a wordplay between the names of four companies: Samsung, Toshiba, Nakamichi, and Motorola.

Proving His Identity

Satoshi engineered his disappearance in a way that minimized, or completely eliminated, the chances of someone discovering his identity without consent. As such, it is quite likely that we will only discover the true Satoshi Nakamoto identity if, at some point, he chooses to reveal himself and provide cryptographic proof of his existence.

Currently, there are several methods for Satoshi to prove his identity if he ever decides to come out of hiding. With this in mind, Satoshi never moved the coins he controls, so he should theoretically still have access to the private keys that control these coins. Additionally, the real Satoshi would also have access to the keys belonging to the Genesis block—while the coins in question cannot be moved, the private key can be used to sign a message, hence proving ownership.   

Conclusion

Based on everything that has been outlined so far, there is no clear answer to the identity of Satoshi Nakamoto, and it can’t be determined whether we will ever know. At this time, it’s a matter of having the creators decide whether they want to go public. Keep in mind the fact that he no longer plays any influence on how the coin works and cannot change the rules of the game without approval from the network of miners and nodes. So even if he went public, his position would be honorary, as it would lack any executive power due to the decentralized status of the Bitcoin blockchain.

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