The name “Satoshi Nakamoto” refers to a mysterious person or group of people who stand behind the bitcoin cryptocurrency and blockchain technology. There have been several attempts to uncover the real person or group behind this name, but none of them has led to success. But still, Satoshi is considered to be the pioneer of cryptocurrency.
Who Is Satoshi Nakamoto?
No one knows exactly who is Satoshi. However, there are several theories, speculations, and guesses related to his identity.
On October 31, 2008, Nakamoto published an article “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System” on the Cryptography Mailing list metricdowd.com, in which he described Bitcoin as a decentralized e-cash system that does not require third parties. In early 2009, he released the first version of a virtual wallet that uses bitcoin and launched the Bitcoin network.
In his article, Satoshi described the use of a peer-to-peer network as a solution to the problem of double spending. Physical currencies do not have a problem of using a single token in more than one transaction. This is because a physical bill can exist only in one place at a single time. Since a digital currency does not exist in the physical space, using it in a transaction does not immediately remove it from someone’s possession.
Solutions to this problem had historically involved the use of trusted third-party intermediaries (banks) that would verify whether a digital currency had already been spent by its owner. In most cases, banks can efficiently process transactions without adding significant risk. It is possible to remove the third party only by introducing cryptography into transactions.
Nakamoto proposed a decentralized approach to transactions, followed by the creation of blockchains. In a blockchain, timestamps for a transaction are added to the end of previous timestamps based on proof-of-work, creating a historical record that cannot be altered. As the number of transactions increases, the blockchain also increases in size, making it more hacker-proof. The blockchain records are secure because it requires a lot of effort to reverse transactions within blockchain networks, which renders the attacks useless.
Satoshi went online by using the Tor network and other anonymization tools. In his profile on the P2P Foundation website, Satoshi indicated that he was born in 1975 and that he lives in Japan. There is a point of view that this data is not real and the person using this pseudonym is not Japanese. This is because he writes in English like a native, and the Bitcoin software was not localized for Japanese and not documented in Japanese.
Additionally, a number of people consider the birth date specified in the profile to be not a real date of birth, but an Easter egg. On April 5, 1933, US President Roosevelt signed decrees prohibiting Americans from accumulating gold. In 1975, due to the abolition of the provision of dollars in gold, the gold ownership for investment purposes was returned. Since mid-2010, Satoshi Nakamoto has not participated in the Bitcoin project.
A significant number of people were suspected of being Satoshi Nakamoto.
Nick Szabo. In December 2013, a blogger Skye Gray stated that he, based on stylometric analysis and other evidence, believed that the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto belonged to Nick Szabo, a cryptographic specialist. Szabo published Bit Gold, a work on digital currency that is considered the immediate predecessor of Bitcoin. Dominic Frisby, a financial writer who conducted his own investigation, also found some evidence but, as he himself admitted, there is no direct evidence that Szabo is Satoshi.
Craig Steven Wright. In December 2015, the Sydney police conducted a search of a businessman and academic Craig Steven Wright. Some journalists claimed that he was Satoshi Nakamoto. On May 2, 2016, he stated that he was supposedly the author of Bitcoin. According to journalists, Wright allegedly provided digital signatures relating to the first operation with Bitcoin. Gavin Andresen, one of Bitcoin developers whom Wright persuaded to come to a personal meeting in London, also claimed that Wright provided him with evidence that was very unlikely to falsify. However, the evidence that Wright provided publicly appeared to be false because what he described in his blog can be repeated by anyone by using the publicly available data from Bitcoin’s blockchain. Wright also refused to provide any convincing and easily verifiable evidence, such as the movement of early digital coins.
Dorian Nakamoto. On March 6, 2014, Newsweek magazine published an article claiming that the creator of Bitcoin is an American of Japanese origin, Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto. Subsequently, Dorian himself denied this information.
Hal Finney. A pre-bitcoin cryptographic pioneer and the first person except for Nakamoto himself to use the software, file bug reports, and make improvements, was also supposed to be actually Nakamoto. Forbes journalist Andy Greenberg asked the writing experts Juola & Associates to compare a sample of Finney's writing to that of Satoshi Nakamoto's. The analysis showed that it was the closest resemblance they had yet come across. Greenberg assumed that Finney may have been Nakamoto’s ghostwriter. However, after meeting Finney, hearing his denial and viewing the emails between him and Satoshi, Greenberg was convinced that Finney was telling the truth.
There are also other less known identity guesses. For example, in 2011, The New Yorker journalist Joshua Davis claimed that he had managed to shortlist two individuals. The first one was Dr. Vili Lehdonvirta, a Finnish economic sociologist. The second one was Michael Clear, an Irish student who later completed a graduate school in cryptography at Trinity College in Dublin and is currently a graduate student at Georgetown University. However, the two “suspects” disapproved of this claim.
In October 2011, investigative journalist Adam Penenberg in an article for the Fast Company cited circumstantial evidence that Neil King, Vladimir Oksman and Charles Bray could be hiding behind the name Satoshi Nakamoto. The three programmers jointly filed a patent application that used the notion of “computationally impractical reverse-mapping”; this phrase is also present in Nakamoto’s white paper. During a personal meeting with Penenberg, all three said they were not related to Nakamoto.
In May 2013, Ted Nelson suggested that Nakamoto was actually a Japanese mathematician Shinichi Mochizuki. An article later appeared in The Age stating that Mochizuki denied these assumptions, but without any reference to the source of his words. In 2013, The Vice named Gavin Andersen and Jed McCaleb as possible candidates.
Also in 2013, two Israeli mathematicians, Dorit Ron, and Adi Shamir published a document stating the existence of a connection between Nakamoto and Ross William Ulbricht, a convicted American darknet market operator. They based their suspicions on analyzing the Bitcoin transaction network.
In 2017, a former SpaceX intern stated that the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX Elon Musk could be a real Satoshi. The suspicions were based on Musk’s technical expertise in the field of financial software and the history of scientific articles published by him. Musk denied this information in his Twitter on November 28, 2017.
The Bottom Line
Satoshi Nakamoto is a person or group of people behind Bitcoin and blockchain technology. Satoshi’s identity is not proven yet. There is a variety of speculations and assumptions about people who can be Nakamoto, including even Elon Musk, but all those suspicions still remain theories.