Mystery still surrounds the word Satoshi Nakamoto, supposed to be creator of most popular digital currency till date – Bitcoins. He created bitcoins in 2008 and uploaded software on open source in Jan 2009. He was still communicating with the world till 2010 but thereafter by end of 2010 he had stopped communicating on his project. Last he was heard in April 2011. No one heard him since then.
Satoshi Nakamoto – no one can say for sure if it is name of a person, or a group or a pseudonym. So if I address Satoshi Nakamoto as “he”, it is just for the sake of writing. It could also be “she” or “they”.
What exactly happened in 2008, 2009 and 2010.
In November 2008, Satoshi Nakamoto published a paper titled “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System” via the Cryptography Mailing List. He had been working on Bitcoin protocol since 2007. If you click the link cryptograpy mailing list you can see his actual letter dated 1st Nov 2008 and the letter has link to its actual white paper which laid the foundation of Digital Currency. The paper basically talked about a payment system wherein individuals can give and receive payments to each other without involvement of any intermediary bank or financial institution.
In Jan 2009, he released first version of Bitcoin Software and communicated with people via mailing list in 2009 and 2010. By the end of the year 2010, he gradually faded from the community. During 2009 and 2010, as he communicated via mailing list, he worked with people on open source but never revealed any personal details. Last he was heard in April 2011 when he is reported to have quoted that he has “moved on to other things”.
Around mid 2010 he handed over control of the bitcoin software – source code repository, network keys, various domains related to this software to different prominent members of the Bitcoin community, one of which was Gavin Andresen with whom he used to communicate. Thereafter he stopped his involvement in this project.
Net Worth of Satoshi Nakamoto
Satoshi started mining in Jan 2009 by building first block of blockchain known as Genesis Block. Thereafter, by the end of the year, over 32000 blocks were added producing about 1,624,250 bitcoins as reported by VICE. Since all transactions are on blockchain ledger, we know that, not more than a quarter of these have changed hands. Hence Satoshi still possess more than a million bitcoins which is now worth $750 million (at current price of about $750)
Bitcoin Benefitted By Anonymity of Creator
In a way it seems that Satoshi Nakamoto was very thoughtful in planning every small aspects of Bitcoin. He kept Bitcoin separated from himself and from any individual personality. Perhaps he had visualised that for a currency to be truly global, it should not be associated with any person, group, community, country or even religion. Then only a currency could be truly accepted by everyone and can achieve global acceptance.
Any kind of ownership towards this digital currency would lead people to think in a biased manner. To have totally unbiased view, it’s necessary to make people feel that the currency is their own. In case of Bitcoin, any person across the world can do mining and own a Bitcoin. One cannot call Bitcoin to be American, European or Asian currency.
Besides above, anonymity of Bitcoin creator made people focus on Bitcoin features, rather than on its history. Everyone knows that there is no single person getting benefitted by the Bitcoin value so whatever is happening in Bitcoin community is affecting the whole community rather than one person or group. Bitcoin features such as “Limited total supply of 21 million in all times to come”, “divisibility to eighth decimal” and “predetermined supply with diminishing production every 4 years” are the major factors for its success and rise in value over a small period. People are now focussing on these features rather than thinking how and who created it.
With due respect to Satoshi Nakamoto, we can say today:
Bitcoin is much greater brand than Satoshi Nakamoto.
Bitcoin is on open source, so no one owns it and it doesn’t matter if we know Satoshi Nakamoto or not.
Today even if Satoshi Nakamoto exposes himself, still even he cannot affect survival of Bitcoins. He might temporarily affect the price by selling his share of Bitcoins since he possess large amount of Bitcoins.
All said and done, Bitcoins are here to stay. Lets make best use of them.
For curiosity, yes we would always wonder who is Satoshi Nakamoto. Here are some personalities whom world thought as Satoshi Nakamoto at some point of time but everytime, it was either proved wrong or the person himself denied being Satoshi Nakamoto.
Finding Satoshi Nakamoto
Since 2011, there have been many reports about finding Satoshi Nakamoto. While the list of proposed people deemed to be Satoshi Nakamoto is a big one, following four persons were reported to have high probability of being Satoshi Nakamoto.
- Nick Szabo : Nick Szabo was a digital currency enthusiast who published a paper on “Bit Gold” which is considered a precursor to Bitcoin. A blogger Skye Grey linked Nick Szabo to the Bitcoin white paper based on stylometric analysis. Szabo was known to be interested in using pseudonyms in 1990s. In May 2011, Szabo came out with an article wherein he mentioned about bitcoin creator : “Myself,Wei Dai, and Hal Finney were the only people I know of who liked the idea (or in Dai’s case his related idea) enough to pursue it to any significant extent until Nakamoto (assuming Nakamoto is not really Finney or Dai”.
There were other people like a financial author Dominic Frisby who provided much circumstantial evidence but could not give a proper proof to prove Szabo is Satoshi. It was also reported in New York Times that “the most convincing evidence pointed to a reclusive American man of Hungarian descent named Nick Szabo.” reported by journalist Nathaniel Popper. However Szabo denied all reports stating in a mail to Frisby that ‘Thanks for letting me know. I’m afraid you got it wrong doxing me as Satoshi, but I’m used to it’
- Dorian Nakamoto : On 6th March 2014, an Amercian weekly magazine, Newsweek came up with an article, claiming they have found Satoshi Nakamoto. Not only that, they claimed they have met him and his family. The articles gave details, how and where Satoshi lives. According to them, Satoshi Nakamoto’s full name is Dorian Prentice Satoshi Nakamoto. He lives in Temple town (near Los Angeles), California. He is a physicist and works as system engineer on some defence projects and as computer engineer for technology and financial information services companies. The article had an interview of his daughter who informs that he was laid off twice in 1990, so he turned libertarian. He encouraged her to start her own business and “not to be under government’s thumb”. She also confirmed that he once revealed his identity as Bitcoin founder but said “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 article went viral in bitcoin community. Reporters camped out near Dorian Nakamoto’s house. However later Dorian gave a detailed interview wherein he denied any connection with Bitcoin. In fact he said he is not aware of this currency. Once amazing thing that happened after the interview was that a message was received on the pseudonymous Nakamoto’s P2P Foundation account stating: “I am not Dorian Nakamoto.” This was first message on this foundation account in five years.
- Hal Finney : He was a cryptographic pioneer even before creation of Bitcoin. He is probably the first person to use the Bitcoin software (besides Satoshi ofcourse). He claims that he had been communicating with Satoshi. This lead to a doubt if he himself is Satoshi. Writing analysts compared his writings with that of Satoshis and found a very close resemblance. However later, Finney denied being Satoshi. He showed his letters to Satoshi and from those letters it was evident that the letters he received were having closer resemblance to Satoshi’s writings rather than his own. Finney even showed the first bitcoin transaction in his wallet that Satoshi had sent him (which he forgot to return). His transaction with Satoshi happened in block 170 on January 12, 2009 at 03:30:25 GMT. The first bitcoin mining was done by Satoshi Nakamoto on 3rd January, 2009 at 18:15:05 GMT with a reward of 50 coins. This is called the Genesis Block
The first ever bitcoin value was set at 1 USD = 1309.03 BTC on October 5, 2009 only. It was only on May 22, 2010 when the first real world transaction of bitcoin happened, when Laszlo Hanyecz, a programmer reportedly paid 10,000 BTC for a pizza worth $25. So we can easily see how closely and how early Finney was related to Satoshi Nakamoto.
- Craig Steven Wright, an Australian, posted on his blog on 2nd May 2016 that Satoshi Nakamoto was a joint pseudonym for himself and a computer forensic analyst David Kleiman who actually died in 2013. On the same day, two different journalists from BBC and The Economist released articles stating that they saw Craig signing a message using private keys associated with first bitcoin transaction. Wright’s claim was also supported by former director of Bitcoin Foundation Jon Matonis. However further investigations by Bitcoin Developers like Peter Todd and Jeff Garzik proved that all evidences made public by Craig were not of much importance and did not proved anything. A security researcher Dan Kaminsky declared that Wright’s claim were “intentional scammery”
On 4th May 2016, Craig came up with another post on his blog stating that he would come up with series of evidences that will prove his claim. However, very next day, he deleted the post and put up a notice entitled “I am Sorry”. The notice had following quote :
“I believed that I could put the years of anonymity and hiding behind me. But, as the events of this week unfolded and I prepared to publish the proof of access to the earliest keys, I broke. I do not have the courage. I cannot.”
While news of above four potential Satoshis went viral, there were several others from time to time who appeared to be closely associated or resembled Satoshi Nakamoto in one way or other. However till date no single person or a group has been confirmed to be Satoshi Nakamoto.