Everyone in the Bitcoin community and the world is dying to know the answer to two critical questions. Who is Satoshi Nakamoto, and why are they anonymous?
Everyone loves a good hero’s journey. But what happens when the hero builds a global currency worth several billion dollars and completely vanishes into thin air? The story of Satoshi Nakamoto, the anonymous creator of Bitcoin, is one of the most bizarre things you will ever read.
It’s been over 14 years since Satoshi Nakamoto published the historic 9-page thesis paper and sent it to a group of cryptographers outlining a new form of “electronic cash” that would eventually change the future of currency. This document outlined a “purely peer-to-peer version of electronic cash that would allow payments to be sent directly from one party to another without going through a financial institution.” This 9-page report became widely known as the original “Bitcoin Whitepaper” – which certainly made a lot of noise in different online forums and networks – since so many other cryptographers had tried to develop some form of electronic currency in the past but came up short.
Previous Attempts at Creating Digital Currency
Back in 1998, there was a resident from Hawaii named Bernard Von NotHaus who created his own currency, which would be called “Liberty Dollars.” To his surprise, the authorities weren’t exactly pleased with this idea. Eventually, they charged Bernard with violating federal law and sentenced him to six months of house arrest and a three-year probation.
Then, in 2007, one of the first digital currencies was released to the public, called “E-gold.” E-gold was shut down amid contentious circumstances by the government on the grounds of money laundering.
To this day, the individual (or group of individuals) behind the creation of Bitcoin has remained anonymous to the general public. Nakamoto’s last public appearance on the web was in 2011 when he sent a brief email to Bitcoin’s core developer Mike Hearn, saying, “I’ve moved on to better things” and that “the future of Bitcoin was in good hands.”
Who is Satoshi Nakamoto?
Not much is really known about the real Satoshi Nakamoto. In all honesty, nobody knows whether Satoshi is a single individual, a group of individuals, or an extraterrestrial being. Nobody can confirm if Satoshi Nakamoto is even still alive. There have been many attempts to uncover who the notorious cryptographer really is. Many rumors still circulate today that Nakamoto was either a member of the Japanese Yakuza, part of the ‘anonymous’ developers, a money launderer for a global human trafficking ring, or just one of the brightest minds of this generation.
In 2014, the press thought they found the real Satoshi. It turns out this mislabeled individual was actually just a 70-year-old Japanese-American man who had to go through extensive lengths to prove he wasn’t Satoshi.
If you google “Satoshi Nakamoto,” you’re likely to find this man pictured above across the internet that has essentially been the target of thousands of messages claiming him to be the probable creator of Bitcoin. This 70-year-old man from Los Angeles, California, nearly fit the credentials of being the real Satoshi with his extensive background in engineering. Still, in his statement to Newsweek, he publicly stated that he “did not create, invent or otherwise work on Bitcoin.”
Why is Satoshi Nakamoto anonymous?
Bitcoin was valued at over a trillion dollars during last year’s bull run in the spring of 2021. While many have criticized Satoshi for remaining anonymous, several security risks are posed to the individual (or group of individuals). It’s believed that Satoshi holds over 1 million Bitcoins valued at nearly $60 billion, which is roughly 5% of the entire circulating supply. With that kind of money net worth, it would put Satoshi in the bracket with some of the wealthiest individuals in the world, like Elon Musk or Bill Gates.
If Satoshi were ever to liquidate his position, it’s believed that these actions could disrupt the entire cryptocurrency market.
If Not Dorian, Then Who?
The hunt for Nakamoto did not stop at Dorian Nakamoto, who, as mentioned earlier, had vehemently denied any association with Bitcoin. So who are the other candidates who could possibly be Satoshi?
Nick Szabo: Was Bit Gold The Precursor To Bitcoin?
One potential candidate who could be Satoshi Nakamoto is Nick Szabo. Szabo is a legal scholar and computer engineer and has long been suspected of being the real Satoshi Nakamoto, primarily because of his association with Bit Gold. Szabo had created Bit Gold, a decentralized currency, back in 2008. The cryptocurrency is widely regarded as the precursor to Bitcoin, described by Szabo as “a protocol whereby unforgeable costly bits could be created online with minimal dependence on trusted third parties.” Like Bitcoin, Bit Gold combined several aspects of mining and cryptography to achieve decentralization.
This concept is extremely similar to the concept behind Bitcoin, in which a network of computers without a central authority validates and verifies transactions. Dominic Frisby made a case for Szabo being the individual behind Satoshi Nakamoto in his book, Bitcoin, The Future of Money? Frisby had consulted an expert in stylometrics, who had concluded that Szabo’s writings were similar to those of Nakamoto. Another supposed clue is Nakamoto’s and Szabo’s reference to economist Carl Menger. Frisby had also discovered that Szabo had also worked with Digicash, which attempted to bring cryptography to digital payments.
According to Frisby, all these points suggested that Szabo was indeed Satoshi Nakamoto.
Hal Finney Fits The Bill
Another strong candidate for being the real Satoshi Nakamoto is Hal Finney. Let’s examine some of the clues that point to the possibility of Finney being Nakamoto. When Nakamoto posted the Bitcoin whitepaper on the mailing list, Finney responded to him, encouraging him to complete writing the code. He was also the first person to receive the first ever Bitcoin transaction from Satoshi Nakamoto himself.
Another aspect that pointed to Finney being Nakamoto was that he was also Dorian Nakamoto’s neighbor. Several theories abound that Hal Finney was Satoshi Nakamoto’s ghostwriter and that Finney was using Dorian Nakamoto as a front, hiding his real identity. On his part, Finney denied being Satoshi Nakamoto, presenting email exchanges between the two as evidence and also sharing his wallet details to convince people.
However, people were still not convinced, believing that Finney was indeed the person behind Satoshi Nakamoto’s account and sent all those messages and the first Bitcoin transaction to himself. Even Vitalik Buterin, the co-founder of Ethereum, weighed in, stating that if he had to guess, Hal Finney was Satoshi Nakamoto. Finney’s passing away in 2014 also explains why the 1 million Bitcoin held in Satoshi’s wallet has been untouched.
Will The Real Satoshi Ever Stand Up?
The short answer? Probably not. The long answer? There are too many potential candidates for the real Satoshi Nakamoto. One theory is that Nakamoto does not wish to be found, thinking that bitcoin could take a significant hit if its identity is revealed. However, the people listed in this article have the biggest chance of being the real creator of Bitcoin. The truth is, though, that the more we look for answers, the further we get from them, and while we may never know their real identity, their work has changed the world and the financial system forever.