The identity of Satoshi Nakamoto, the founder of Bitcoin, is perhaps the greatest kept secret in cryptocurrency. To this day no one knows for certain who is behind the name. It is widely assumed that Satoshi Nakamoto is a pseudonym. It could be the name adopted by a single individual, or it could be the handle of a group of developers who worked together to create Bitcoin. Either way, the mystery of Bitcoin’s founder may never be solved.
The Mysterious Father of Bitcoin
In 2008 the simple publication of a paper to a group of cryptography enthusiasts described the potential of a digital currency that could be used like cash for the exchange of good and services. The author of the paper was identified as Satoshi Nakamoto, a Japanese expert in cryptography and computer science. The currency referenced in the paper was named Bitcoin.
And so it was that Satoshi Nakamoto became the father of Bitcoin, and, by extension, the father of cryptocurrency. The peer-to-peer cashless system described in the paper was revolutionary. It was surely something that a developer would want to take credit for in a public way. Nevertheless, Nakamoto chose to remain a mystery. Some subtle hints were dropped regarding the developer’s identity: he claimed on a peer-to-peer forum to be born in 1975 and living in Japan. Beyond that, nothing.
Nakamoto would formally introduce the world to Bitcoin in 2009 with a software architecture that became known as a blockchain. A website was created and registered in the name of Nakamoto to promote the system of exchange. By 2010, however, the mysterious creator had turned over the reins to other developers and essentially vanished from the scene. Today, the actual identity of this innovator in digital economics remains unknown.
There are many questions posed by the enigma that is Satoshi Nakamoto. Why would an individual develop something with such far-reaching potential and choose to remain anonymous? The work was groundbreaking and could have positioned its creator among the brightest luminaries in the computer science world. How could an individual even maintain anonymity in such a development project? Surely others were involved, and the premise that all of them would be willing to keep a secret is preposterous.
The world may never know the answers to these and other questions about the founder of Bitcoin. There are only theories and suppositions. Almost nine years after the first Bitcoin tokens were mined, the world still speculates about who was truly responsible.
Is Satoshi Nakamoto a Group of Individuals?
One of the most popular theories to emerge since the introduction of Bitcoin is that Satoshi Nakamoto is not an individual at all. Many believe that the name refers to a group of developers who worked together on the project. This theory makes a certain kind of sense when one considers the scope of the Bitcoin project.
In July of 2018, the reclusive Nakamoto seems to have re-entered the digital world. Someone claiming to be the anonymous developer dropped 21 pages of a manuscript that claims to be a sort of history of Bitcoin’s development. In the material, which has now been taken down, Nakamoto claims that the name referred to a group of developers. Many in the cryptocurrency community were quick to label the document a fraud.
The Economist and other publications have laid out reasons why Nakamoto may be a pseudonym for a group of developers. Many seem to think that the complexity of the blockchain and Bitcoin concept would require input from individuals who were skilled in various fields. It does seem to be a project that would easily overwhelm a single developer.
Theories About the Identity of Satoshi Nakamoto
Others have suggested that Satoshi is indeed a single individual. If this is true, it is likely that the name is still fictitious. Most of the prominent candidates are those who have established ties to Bitcoin development.
Hal Finney was a pioneer of cryptography that passed away in 2014. Prior to his passing, Finney is believed to have been the first person to use the Bitcoin software and its related architecture. The developer created bug reports and also made improvements to the platform. It was subsequently discovered that Finney lived in close proximity to a family named Nakamoto.
The evidence to support Finney as Nakamoto is circumstantial at best. The best support for this theory may be that writing samples from Finney seem to match the writing style employed by the person or persons using the fictitious name. It is also possible that Finney served as a sort of ghostwriter for the individual who is actually responsible for the platform.
Other possibilities include Nick Szabo and Craig Wright. Both men have been connected to Bitcoin through published whitepapers and other documents. Wright, in particular, seems to have encouraged the notion that he is Satoshi. Many have been quick to point out that Wright has a reputation for being dramatic, and most believe that he is perpetuating a hoax.
There are researchers who devote themselves nonstop to the research of Nakamoto’s true identity. Most of them repeatedly encounter dead ends. No leads that contribute anything new to the search have appeared in several years, and it may be time to realize that the legitimate identity of the founder of Bitcoin may never be discovered.
The Case of Dorian Nakamoto
One name that continually comes up when the discussion of Bitcoin’s founder occurs is Dorian Nakamoto. Given the name Satoshi at birth by Japanese parents, Nakamoto is a systems engineer who lives in California. A Newsweek reporter claimed in March of 2014 that this individual could be the creator of Bitcoin. Nakamoto certainly seems to have the computer experience to pull off such a major project.
It is also interesting to note that Nakamoto has a decidedly Libertarian political bent which would philosophically support him as the founder. Nakamoto himself has denied the connection, claiming that he never worked on elements of the Bitcoin project. In one of the last messages claimed to be from Satoshi, the anonymous developer insisted that he was not Dorian Nakamoto.
It seems far fetched that someone with the actual name Satoshi Nakamoto would have created Bitcoin and then went to such lengths to protect their own anonymity. That would defy logic. It is much more reasonable to assume that the name was chosen at random, or perhaps out of some significance that only the developers know.
Will The Real Satoshi Nakamoto Please Stand Up?
The answer to this question is that it is very unlikely the person behind the Nakamoto name will ever reveal themselves. For starters, Nakamoto is believed to hold a vast amount of Bitcoin. Some have said that Nakamoto’s worth could exceed $14 billion, making him one of the richest people in the world. There could certainly be financial motives for keeping the identity a secret.
The revelation of Satoshi Nakamoto’s identity is by no means a necessity to the continued evolution and success of Bitcoin. An identity has no bearing on the viability of cryptocurrency as a means of exchange. Altcoins continue to be introduced, and more developers emerge each day. At best, the identity remains a curiosity. In some way, it lends an aura of fun and mystery to a digital currency that was initially designed to provide some measure of anonymous usage.
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