No one knows the true identity of Satoshi Nakamoto. All we know is that they were behind the creation of Bitcoin, that led to the beginning of the age of cryptocurrency. Over the years, there has been constant speculation regarding their identity, with some individuals wrongly identified as Satoshi, while others screaming from rooftops that they are Satoshi. Let’s separate the facts from fiction today.
On 3rd January 2009, the first Bitcoin was mined by Satoshi Nakamoto. It is now widely accepted that “Satoshi Nakamoto” is the pseudonym of a person or group of individuals that created Bitcoin.
Satoshi was a fairly popular name in the online community and was a regular poster on message boards, but they never revealed their real identity. Months before the first Bitcoin was mined, Satoshi published a detailed whitepaper titled ‘Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System.’ which outlined a cryptographically secure, peer-to-peer protocol. The whitepaper described Bitcoin as a “purely peer-to-peer version of electronic cash” that “would allow online payments to be sent directly from one party to another without going through a financial institution or any intermediary.” Then, a couple of years after the launch of Bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto simply fell off the face of the Earth.
Bitcoin was created during the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis that saw the world economy significantly impacted thanks to the housing market’s collapse. This was the trigger behind the creation of Bitcoin, a digital currency based on distributed ledger technology, also known as the blockchain. The Bitcoin whitepaper was instrumental in creating the groundwork for cryptographically secure systems designed to be censorship-resistant, tamperproof, and transparent and enabling people to reclaim their financial independence through a new, decentralized financial system.
Hackers, journalists, and even intelligence agencies have been trying to decipher clues that could reveal Satoshi’s true identity. Remember, Satoshi had never shared any personal details in their communications, but some clues may give us a hint in discovering their identity. In one of their profiles on a forum, Satoshi described himself as a 37-year-old man living in Japan. Satoshi had also left what you may call an Easter egg in the metadata of Bitcoin’s Genesis block: “The Times 03/Jan/2009 Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks”.
The text is from the headline from the day’s Times of London, possibly hinting at where Satoshi was actually based. Another hint was the use of British dialect such as favor,” “math,” “flat,” and the phrase “bloody hard,” which point to the fact that Satoshi could be a resident of the United Kingdom. Researchers who went over the timestamps of Satoshi’s online activities discovered the creator’s likely time zones to the US Eastern, UK, or US Pacific. Others believe that Satoshi is not one person but rather a team of programmers working together.
The true identity of Satoshi Nakamoto has been a constant source of speculation, with several possible candidates touted as the individual behind the pseudonym. Dorian Nakamoto, Craig White, Hal Finney, and Nick Szabo are the most likely candidates.
A Newsweek article called “The Face Behind Bitcoin” was among the most high-profile attempts to decipher Nakamoto’s identity. The article pinpointed Dorian Nakamoto as the creator of Bitcoin, citing similarities between the two, such as Mathematical skill, temperament, and political leanings. According to Goodman, Dorian had worked on several classified defense projects. However, Dorian denied any and all involvement with Bitcoin, with the issue finally put to rest when Satoshi Nakamoto posted in an online forum that they are not Dorian Nakamoto.
Nick Szabo has also been on the list of suspected Satoshis, with several comparisons drawn between him and Satoshi Nakamoto thanks to Szabo’s writings and significant contribution to Bitcoin’s development. Szabo is an engineer and cryptographer and has pioneered the concept of smart contracts in a paper titled “Smart Contracts: Building Blocks for Digital Markets.” Szabo is also the brains behind Bit Gold, heralded as the precursor to Bitcoin. He has also worked on DigiCash, a payment system that used cryptography. Szabo, however, denies that he is the real Satoshi Nakamoto.
Hal Finney was a computer scientist, coder, and cryptography enthusiast and was the first person to have worked on Bitcoin other than Nakamoto himself. He also received the first-ever Bitcoin transaction from Satoshi Nakamoto himself. Finney was also Dorian Nakamoto’s neighbor, a fact that drew even more interest in him. There are also theories that Finney was Nakamoto’s ghostwriter and that Finney was using Dorian Nakamoto as a front to hide his real identity. Finney denied being Satoshi Nakamoto and presented the emails exchanged between him and Nakamoto as evidence. He also shared his wallet details to prove that he was not Satoshi.
Adam Back is a British cypherpunk, entrepreneur, and cryptographer. While Back outright denies being Nakamoto, his deep philosophy towards Bitcoin merits some attention. In 2020, a YouTube channel posted a video titled “Unmasking Satoshi Nakamoto” where the author went over forum discussions to investigate Nakamoto’s motivation behind creating Bitcoin. This was where Adam Back’s name first came into the picture. Several hints mentioned earlier also point to Nakamoto being a British citizen. Back is also the inventor of Hashcash which is an algorithm used for verification in Bitcoin. Adam Back was also the first person contacted by Nakamoto. However, Adam Back has assured that he is not Nakamoto in several interviews.
Len Sassaman was a brilliant Cypherpunk, brilliant and idealistic, and was devoted to defending personal freedoms through cryptography. Len was on track to become one of the most important cryptographers of his generation but tragically took his own life after a long battle with depression and other disorders. Sassaman’s death coincided with the disappearance of Satoshi Nakamoto. Only two months before Len passed away, Satoshi sent their final communication stating, “I’ve moved on to other things and probably won’t be around in the future.” Satoshi then disappeared without any explanation, leaving behind a slew of incomplete features and debates about their vision for Bitcoin.
An analysis of the Bitcoin blockchain can give an insight into which addresses belong to Nakamoto. An analysis by Sergio Demián Lerner, chief scientist of RSK Labs, revealed that Satoshi was in possession of 1 million BTC. While Bitcoin from some of these early addresses has been moved, leading to speculation whether this was Satoshi. However, the same analysis by Sergio Demián Lerner has shown that they are not from addresses linked to Satoshi.
In 2020, a Twitter account reported that 40 BTC was transferred from a wallet possibly owned by Satoshi to an unknown wallet, sending the community into a frenzy. However, several indicators on the blockchain showed that this individual was not Satoshi.
So who is Satoshi? Is there a prime suspect? Is he one of the individuals identified as Satoshi but denies that he is indeed Satoshi, or is it someone no one has suspected? Is Satoshi even alive or dead, or are they more than an individual, making tracking them down even more of a challenge? The truth is that the harder we search for the answers, the further we are from them. We may never know who Satoshi Nakamoto really is. All we are left with is his creation which has changed the current financial system for the better.
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