Who is Satoshi Nakamoto?

Bitcoin’s enigmatic creator goes by the name “Satoshi Nakamoto”. Satoshi Nakamoto authored the Bitcoin white paper in 2008, wrote the code for Bitcoin 0.1 in 2009, and defined the genesis block of Bitcoin (the first block upon which all other blocks are built). In 2010, Nakamoto transferred control of Bitcoin’s source code and online properties to Gavin Andresen and other members of the Bitcoin community and vanished from the public eye.

Until today, nobody has been able to conclusively identify who “Satoshi Nakamoto” is, or even whether this name represents one person or a group of people. Many people have been fingered for being Nakamoto, and others have tried to claim that they are the shadowy genius behind blockchain technology, but the issue is still a controversy.

anonymous mask code
Image: Pete Linforth via Pixabay
Speculated identities

XHal Finney, a programmer, cryptographer and cypherpunk, was one of the first people suspected of being Satoshi Nakamoto. Finney received the first Bitcoin transaction from Satoshi Nakamoto on January 12, 2009. Finney has denied that he is Nakamoto. Hal Finney died in 2014.

Dorian Nakamoto (full name Dorian Prentice Satoshi Nakamoto), an American computer engineer of Japanese descent, is another Nakamoto suspect. He lived in the same town as Hal Finney and is a libertarian. He denied that he was the Satoshi Nakamoto who created Bitcoin. After Newsweek claimed in 2014 that Dorian Nakamoto was Satoshi Nakamoto, one of Satoshi Nakamoto’s forum accounts broke a 5-year silence to say “I am not Dorian Nakamoto.” The account was later claimed to have been hacked.

Nick Szabo, a decentralized currency enthusiast and programmer, has also been suspected of being Nakamoto based on an analysis of his writing style. He has denied being Nakamoto.

Australian academic Craig Wright has claimed that he is Nakamoto, and has claimed that he developed Bitcoin together with Hal Finney and the computer forensics analyst David Kleiman, who died in 2013. Wright’s claims have not been supported with conclusive proof, even though he belatedly registered a 2019 copyright (not a patent) for the Bitcoin white paper and version 0.1 code. Numerous people have called Wright a hoax.

What we know
  • Satoshi Nakamoto claimed to be a 37-year old male living in Japan (in 2010).
  • He was a brilliant coder and cryptographer.
  • Nakamoto wrote in English at native-level proficiency.
  • He used British spelling and colloquialisms and embedded a British newspaper headline in the genesis block “The Times 03/Jan/2009 Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks”.
  • Nakamoto was inactive online during the hours of 05:00 and 11:00(GMT).
  • He expressed libertarian and anarchistic views and is linked to the cypherpunk community.
  • He was critical of the banking system, and of governments.
  • Satoshi Nakamoto assiduously avoided identification and desired anonymity.

Satoshi Nakamoto’s identity may elude us all, but his legacy has re-written the rules of money and economies, just as the first person who decided to use gold as a currency did.

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