Who is Satoshi Nakamoto, the mysterious creator of bitcoin?
In late 2008, Satoshi Nakamoto published a nine-page white paper online and set the stage for a revolution in the finance industry at a time when the world was still struggling under the weight of a global financial crisis.
Titled, Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System, the document laid out the blueprint for the world’s first mainstream cryptocurrency, digital money that you can store and exchange online without the need for a trusted broker, such as a bank, or a service like PayPal.
Above: A screenshot excerpt of Satoshi Nakamoto’s original nine-page white paper
Since the publishing of the initial white paper, Bitcoin and its underlying technology, blockchain, have come a long way, spawning thousands of other digital currencies and giving rise to a fast-growing community of cryptocurrency enthusiasts, crypto-exchanges and blockchain startups. But Bitcoin’s innovation has also found its appeal in the darker recesses of the web, becoming the main method of payment in online black markets and in ransomware attacks. Despite this, the overall swelling hype surrounding Bitcoin has boosted its price to insane levels in past years. In 2009, every bitcoin was worth $0.05—at the end of 2017, the price of Bitcoin had surged to almost $20,000, creating a new breed of crypto-billionaires.
Above: The price of a single bitcoin surged to $19,343.04 on December 16, 2017
Aside from writing and publishing the Bitcoin white paper, Satoshi released the first version of the Bitcoin software and was the miner of the first block of bitcoins, which earned a 50-bitcoin reward, and has been credited with the creation of bitcoin.org, the official website of Bitcoin and Bitcointalk, a forum that discusses Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
However, despite the growth and progress of Bitcoin, one of its oldest mysteries remains unsolved: Who is Satoshi Nakamoto?
According to a P2P Foundation profile, Satoshi Nakamoto is a 43-year-old man living in Japan. But in reality, there’s no proof of whether he’s a man, woman, or a group of people. Many believe that Satoshi is the pseudonym of a person who isn’t even Japanese, given their fluid command of the English language and writing and coding style.
After the release of the Bitcoin white paper, Satoshi corresponded with developers and users on email or the Bitcointalk forum for a few years. But no one ever heard his voice, not even the developers who worked with him closely during Bitcoin’s early years.
Gradually, Satoshi took a backstage role and transferred control and authority of his assets to other developers. In early 2011, he stopped posting changes to Bitcoin’s source code and ignored emails and messages in Bitcointalk. Since then, several efforts have been led to uncover the true identity of Satoshi. All have been in vain.
In 2014, in a long cover article, Newsweek claimed to have discovered the person who invented Bitcoin after a months-long investigation. According to the feature, the real Satoshi was a 64-year-old Japanese-American man living in Los Angeles. His real name was Satoshi, but he had changed it to Dorian when he was 23. Dorian Nakamoto denied being the real founder of Bitcoin shortly after the Newsweek piece was published, and Satoshi’s online profile made its first comment in three years: "I am not Dorian Nakamoto."
Above: Dorian Nakamoto, above, hired legal counsel to defend allegations he was the real Satoshi Nakamoto (source and image: [The Verge](https://www.theverge.com/2014/3/17/5517732/dorian-nakamoto-issues-statement-denying-he-invented-bitcoin)).
Above: The "real" Satoshi denies being Dorian Nakamoto in a rare post on the P2P Foundation forum in 2014
Another Satoshi was discovered a year later, this time by The New York Times. A piece that ran on the publication in May 2015 claimed that the creator of Bitcoin was Nick Szabo, an American of Hungarian descent. Szabo, an acclaimed computer scientist, is actively involved in the cryptocurrency and blockchain space (he’s the creator of Bit Gold, a precursor to Bitcoin), and there are many parallels between his history and what little is known about Satoshi. However, as was published in the Times’ article, he categorically rejected being the founder of Bitcoin: "As I’ve stated many times before, all this speculation is flattering, but wrong — I am not Satoshi."
Above: Nick Szabo, above, has denied being the real Satoshi Nakamoto (source and image: Coin Central).
In late 2015, Wired claimed they’d found Satoshi in Australia: a 44-year-old computer genius named Craig Steven Wright. Wired referred to several pieces of evidence, including blog posts and PGP keys published on Wright’s blog, as proof that he was Satoshi. This time, the unmasked Satoshi confirmed being the real founder of Bitcoin, but eventually gave up on his claim when he was asked to show technical proof. (In order to prove the validity of his claim, Wright would have to complete several tasks, including signing messages with PGP keys associated with Satoshi’s email and bitcoin blocks as well as proving ownership of Satoshi’s email and forum accounts.)
Above: Craig Wright, (Source and image: QZ.com/DrCraigWright.net).
Satoshi’s wealth, estimated somewhere in the vicinity of a million bitcoins, was worth upwards of $19.4 billion when bitcoin hit its peak price, then making Bitcoin’s founder the 44th richest person in the world. But the bitcoins in the blockchain addresses associated to Satoshi haven’t changed since the ledger’s creation, which means he hasn’t spent any of his fortune yet.
The real Satoshi, whoever he, she or they are, may one day step forward or decide to humbly remain anonymous in perpetuity. Whatever the case, while many are still interested in finding out who was the creator of Bitcoin, others think that at this point the answer to that question has become irrelevant. Since its founding, Bitcoin has grown much bigger than Satoshi, and most of the source code of the Bitcoin project has been rewritten by developers whose identities are known. So while we may never get to know who the true Satoshi Nakamoto was, we can rest assured that his/her/their legacy lives on.