Who is Satoshi Nakamoto?
The mystery of Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto endures. Still, here are the people who either claimed or are suspected to be him.
Who Created Bitcoin? Who is Satoshi Nakamoto? And what CIA has to do with all of it? We take a look at the possible candidates, who can hide behind mysterious Bitcoin creator mask.
Bitcoin is more than 10 years old, but its creator still remains anonymous. Who is Satoshi Nakamoto? All that’s left to do is speculate from the pieces of truth that we have. For example, Nakamoto has been seen spelling “colour” and “optimise” more than once in the British way. If some people think he’s a native Englishman, others see Satoshi as a Japanese.
And yet, until today, crypto enthusiasts have formed a clear list of “prime suspects” for the role of Bitcoin creator. Is it possible that government agencies already have the necessary information? For example, in 2018, CIA officials said that they “can neither confirm nor deny the existence of Satoshi Nakamoto”. Let’s look at a list of the most likely candidates.
Who made the first cryptocurrency before Bitcoin?
Since 1997, the underground movement of сypherpunks has become popular. It was a group of people who were interested in preserving anonymity on the Internet through cryptography. In November 1998, computer engineer Wei Dai published an article about “anonymous, distributed, electronic money system” (B-money) in his сypherpunk mailing list. The paper talked about the use of Proof-of-Work algorithm, which today works in a Bitcoin network. And since B-money needed a single server that would broadcast the network to the participants, the idea was considered impractical and vulnerable.
7 years later, cryptography scientist Nick Szabo wrote an article about his decentralized payment system with genuine Proof-of-Work chains — Bit Gold. In 2008 Sabo asked programmers for help in writing code but nobody responded. There is also a version that American security services saw Bit Gold as a threat to the national economy and forced Szabo to stop development.
The same year, the mysterious bitcoin.org domain appeared, along with a mailing list of Satoshi Nakamoto about the concept of digital money without intermediaries. Before Bitcoin, digital money was controlled by banks and payment systems. It was believed that account holders could do anything with their money, but in the end only the bank would consent to the transaction. Banks can cancel transfers and block customers’ accounts, which means that they actually own their money.
On January 3, the first Bitcoin block was mined, which is commonly called a genesis block. Together with it, 50 BTC was created. And on January 12, the transactions of the cryptocurrency become a reality. The first transaction was sent by Satoshi Nakamoto himself to Harold Finney’s crypto wallet.
Throughout the process of turning Bitcoin into the mainstream cryptocurrency, Satoshi kept his anonymity in every possible way: no one had ever seen him alive, and all communication took place only through e-mails. Judging by the correspondence between Nakamoto and his assistants, he requested a lot of work and usually answered in a week. This leads to suspicions that Satoshi was working in parallel on another job or it wasn’t just one person but a group of people. After two years, Satoshi finally moves away from his project, noting that Bitcoin is in good hands and it is time for him to move in other directions.
During the period of Bitcoin’s rapid development (2011–2014) media started showing some interest in the cryptocurrency’s origin. Journalists from Newsweek decided to find Satoshi Nakamoto by his last name. The search led them to Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto, who live in California. This Satoshi has experience in computer security and financial information systems. He worked on cybersecurity systems maintenance and fixing identified vulnerabilities.
During an interview, Dorian answered questions ambiguously, which gave journalists grounds to declare his the real Satoshi. He seemed to confirm that he was the creator:
“I’m not involved in this project anymore and I can’t discuss it, other people own it now and I’m not connected anymore”.
That sounds very mysterious, at Nakamoto’s best. After that statement, the journalists started stalking Nakamoto. Dorian was so sick of it that he gave another interview, only this time he already denied any connection with Bitcoin. And then Satoshi decided to explain once again that he wasn’t the creator, answering to Reddit users. About his first statement, Dorian refers to the fact that he misunderstood the question and thought it was a contract with Citibank.
During all that hype with Dorian, a comment from the creator of Bitcoin appeared on an important crypto enthusiasts forum: “I’m not Dorian Nakamoto”. The authenticity of that comment was challenged, and it’s still unclear whether it was from original Satoshi Nakamoto or someone else’s evil joke.
So, despite Dorian’s many attempts to prove that he is not the creator of Bitcoin, the image of an elderly man of Japanese appearance for a long time began to embody a mysterious personality. Unfortunately, Dorian has stopped receiving work contracts because his work has been made public and now no one wants to invite an overly talkative expert.
On March 25th 2014 Forbes journalist Andy Greenberg has published an article about his neighbour Dorian Nakamoto. The text featured someone named Hal Finney, the person who received the first transaction from Satoshi Nakamoto himself.
Greenberg later sought the help of experts from Juola & Associates to compare examples of Finney’s texts with Satoshi’s messages. It turns out that the analysts found the most matches between the two individuals. However, e-mails from Nakamoto to Finney most likely match the style of the original Bitcoin whitepaper.
With that in mind, Greenberg made another statement — Hal Finney wrote part of the public messages from the creator of the cryptocurrency. The programmer refuted all suspicions about his account by meeting with Greenberg in person. Finney showed him his correspondence history and his crypto wallet. The journalist finally came to the conclusion that Finney was telling the truth.
Unfortunately, we are unlikely to get more information about the relationship between Dorian Nakamoto, Satoshi Nakamoto and Hal Finney ever. On August 28, 2014, Finney died in his home in Phoenix after a long battle with a serious illness.
Faketoshi or Craig Wright
In 2015, an australian businessman and scientist Craig Wright told the world that Satoshi Nakamoto had been him the whole time. This statement was initially supported by John Matonis (former director of the Bitcoin Foundation), Gavin Andresen (developer and successor of the Bitcoin) and cryptographer Jan Grigg.
Gizmodo also published a story about a hacker who hacked into Wright’s email and found evidence of a connection between Nakamoto’s alias and the scientist’s identity, calling Wright the true creator of Bitcoin. The Australian later filed more than 150 patent applications for Distributed Registry Technology, smart contracts and 6 cryptocurrencies, but there were no legal consequences.
In 2019, the U.S. Patent Office announced, that Wright has rights to the Whitepaper of Bitcoin, adding that anyone can file such an application, and the Office itself does not verify the accuracy of the information provided.
In 2016, Wright promised to provide evidence of his authorship for the creation of Bitcoin, in particular, to make a transaction from one of the earlier Bitcoin addresses where Satoshi Nakamoto’s bitcoins are stored and which are considered lost. A few days later, he tweeted those statements and published a regret that he could no longer hide his anonymity.
The war for real Nakamoto name broke out again in 2019, when Wright launched the Bitcoin Cash hardfork, creating the Bitcoin SV (Satoshi Vision), a currency he claimed to represent Satoshi’s true vision of Bitcoin. Bitcoin Cash’s Blockchain miners supported hardfork, but many enthusiasts once again questioned the fact that Craig called himself Satoshi Nakamoto.
The peak of the conflict was a lawsuit against Peter McCormack, who accused Wright of fraud and deception. The lawsuit was filed after one of the users revealed to Craig the details of the Twitter account owner of Hodlonaut, which turned out to be McCormack. Community strongly opposed the disclosure of personal data and supported the podcast, changing the Hodlonaut nicknames en masse and tagging #CraigWrightIsAFraud, which symbolized the unity of position of the entire community.
In response, Craig threatened to sue all “slanderers” and was convicted on Twitter by Changpeng Zhao, head of Binance’s cryptocurrency exchange. In May 2019, Binance, followed by Kraken and a number of other exchanges delisted Bitcoin SV in protest.
The latest high-profile case in this story is the lawsuit filed by Ira Kleiman against Craig Wright. Ira is the brother of Dave Kleiman, one of the possible co-founders of Bitcoin, and according to him, Craig has appropriated more than a million of Dave’s bitcoins. Wright reported that the bitcoins he and Dave were assigned are stored in a blind trust at Tulip Trust, but he has no access to them because only Cleiman knew part of the key to unlock them.
In late July 2019, the Florida District Court ordered Wright to pay the family of the deceased half of the bitcoins he claims to own — over 400 000 BTC.
CIA and NSA involvement
There are many theories about Satoshi Nakamoto. A former SpaceX intern wrote an article about the possible involvement of Elon Musk in Bitcoin creation. Mask himself denied this fact. Like Charlie Lee, creator of Litecoin, he may have been involved in the Bitcoin development. Nick Szabo who suddenly stopped implementing Bit Gold could also have become Satoshi, so that his work was not hindered by law enforcement agencies.
Speaking of law enforcement. The latest theory about Satoshi Nakamoto’s identity is strongly linked to the U.S. National Security Agency research. According to some sources, NSA identified the creator of Bitcoin using stylometry, a method to determine the unique writing style (handwriting) by which the author of the text can be identified. To make the most of the stylometry, it will take many databases to compare the information. This is what distinguishes ordinary users from the NSA study — they have access to closed databases.
Most likely, the agency contacted the real Satoshi Nakamoto, but for some reason decided not to disclose his identity. He may have been one of his own, although this is extremely unconvincing given Satoshi’s libertarian views, or there was a non-disclosure agreement between them. Either way, the NSA refused to answer questions about Satoshi’s identity. And the CIA has given an official response, which can neither confirm nor deny that the agency has information about the creator of Bitcoin.
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