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Who Invented Bitcoin? The Long Search for the Elusive Satoshi Nakamoto

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According to Greek mythology, the use of fire was unknown to mankind. An anonymous titan by the name Prometheus stole it from the gods and gave it to humans. For this, he earned the eternal gratitude of men. And guess what? Zeus (king of the gods) was greatly annoyed. He took Prometheus to the Caucasus Mountains, and chained him to a rock for eternity.

Unless you live under a rock (which clearly you don’t if you’re on this site), you’ve probably heard about Bitcoin. Bitcoin was the first of what have become known as "cryptocurrencies". It is the brainchild of a computer genius yet to be identified – and known only with what is assumed to be a fictitious name, Satoshi Nakamoto.

He is the shadowy Prometheus of our time who defied normal rules to introduce the first global currency that is not tied to any government or issued by any central public authority.

It's unclear, however, whether 'Satoshi Nakamoto' is a pseudonym for one person or a group of people.

The sequence of events

August 1, 2008

The domain name “bitcoin.org” was registered. Later that year, Satoshi authored and published a nine-page academic paper titled “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System. The paper outlined how a peer-to-peer electronic cash system, which would be “based on cryptographic proof instead of trust,” could bypass banks.

Jan 3, 2009

An important milestone for Bitcoin cryptocurrency took place. Satoshi Nakamoto launched the Bitcoin network and mined the first block, otherwise known as the "Genesis Block".

He permanently embedded the following text in the block:

"The Times 03/Jan/2009 Chancellor on the brink of the second bailout for banks."

At the time of mining the first block, the global financial crisis was at its height, and it was evident that the world's financial system was on the brink of collapse.

So to Satoshi, this day marks a monumental paradigm shift in people’s reliance on banks and governments.

Jan 9, 2009

Satoshi released the first open source version of the Bitcoin software client. He anonymously sought feedback and suggestions from other coders and CypherPunks to improve the Bitcoin client and protocol.

April 23, 2011

Satoshi emailed Mike Hern – one of the talented Bitcoin’s volunteer programmers – that he has moved on to other things and it’s in good hands with Gavin and everyone. In other words, he made it known that he had officially handed over the reins to Gavin Andersen.

And just like that. He vanished into thin air and has never been heard of since.

This begs the question – who is Nakamoto? Where is he now? And why would he disappear just after launching something that has the potential to revolutionize the global financial system?

Perhaps Nakamoto was afraid that the use of bitcoin would land him in trouble with law enforcement agencies around the world.

This came to be true as bitcoin, due to its anonymity, became a de facto currency of the dark web, an uncensored part of the internet where everything illegal ranging from drugs, stolen credit card information, weapons to human body parts is offered for purchase. Certainly Satoshi would have had a series of troubles had he disclosed his identity.

The most likely candidates who could be Satoshi Nakamoto

1. Nick Szabo

who-invented-bitcoin-the-long-search-for-the-elusive-satoshi-nakamoto

Many cryptocurrency enthusiasts and analysts believe that Nick Szabo is the founder of Bitcoin. He came up with a precursor to Bitcoin known as “Bit Gold”. His concept provided an important groundwork for some of the developments that would later characterize bitcoin. Moreover, Satoshi and Szabo contacted the same group of people for advice and feedback with their respective cryptocurrency projects. Szabo’s writing also contains “striking parallels” to Satoshi’s, including similar writing mannerisms and phrasings. Szabo, however, has consistently denied the allegations.

2. Dorian S. Nakamoto

who-invented-bitcoin-the-long-search-for-the-elusive-satoshi-nakamoto

The story that probably garnered significant media attention is that of Leah McGrath Goodman. In her controversial cover story for Newsweek, McGrath claimed to have successfully unmasked the mysterious man behind bitcoin. Dorian S. Nakamoto, a Japanese-American living in California, is actually the creator of the controversial digital currency. Dorian, whose birth name is Satoshi Nakamoto, publicly and vehemently denied he was bitcoin's anonymous creator. He even claimed he had never heard of bitcoin until Leah contacted him.

3. Hal Finney

Many people believe that the late Hal Finney, a software engineer, was actually Satoshi Nakamoto. He received the first bitcoin transaction from Satoshi on January 5, 2009. Forbes reporter Andy Greenberg found out that Hal Finney lived just a few blocks away from Dorian Nakamoto’s house. The coincidence of having Finney living two blocks away from Dorian’s home is just too improbable to be ignored. Also, according to some analysts, Finney’s writing was the closest in style to the writing of Nakamoto. Greenberg, however, was convinced that Finney was not the creator of the controversial currency. He probably authored the Bitcoin paper on behalf of Satoshi Nakamoto.

4. Craig Wright

In 2015, both Wired and Gizmodo published parallel investigations which identified, Craig Wright, an Australian computer scientist and businessman, as the bitcoin creator. In spite of what you would think, Wright admitted publicly to being Satoshi Nakamoto. He said he had verifiable proof that he was the mystery man. It was later found out that Wright altered his blog posts to insert evidence in his involvement in Bitcoin. Furthermore, he was unable to cryptographically sign transactions on the Genesis block to prove he was Nakamoto and has failed to do so ever since. Bitcoin experts believed Wright was trying to concoct a remarkable hoax.


5. Neal King and Colleagues

Adam Penenberg, an investigative journalist at Fast Company, claimed that Neal King, Vladimir Oksman, and Charles Bry worked together under a fictitious name – Satoshi Nakamoto. The names of these people emerged when he searched on Google for unique phrases which were on Satoshi’s academic bitcoin paper. Specifically, he searched for the phrase 'computationally impractical to reverse'. The search result was a patent application made by the three gentlemen above. The patent was requested 72 hours before the domain name bitcoin.org was registered. Both men have denied any connection to Satoshi's bitcoin project.

6. Michael Clear

Joshua Davis of the New Yorker magazine believed that an Irish computer science student Michael Clear was Satoshi Nakamoto. Davis encountered Michael Clear while attending Crypto 2011. According to Davis, Michael’s background fits Satoshi’s profile. He has experience with cryptography, P2P networking, economics, and a deep understanding of C++. When Davis asked Michael whether he was the elusive bitcoin creator, Michael replied, “I am not Satoshi, but even if I was I wouldn’t tell you.”

7. Elon Musk

who-invented-bitcoin-the-long-search-for-the-elusive-satoshi-nakamoto

A medium post by a former SpaceX employee hypothesized that the Tesla Inc. C.E.O. and PayPal co-founder Elon Musk is probably the man behind bitcoin. According to Gupta, Musk’s linguistic habits that seem close to Satoshi’s and deep understanding of C++ programming language suggested he could be bitcoin’s mysterious inventor. The American business magnate, however, has denied being Nakamoto

8. Wei Dai

Wei Dai is the founder of b-money which was cited by Nakamoto in his bitcoin whitepaper. According to Wei, he was the second person to be contacted by Satoshi. He was referred to him by Adam Back. Wei is an expert C++ for Windows.

9. Adam Back

Adam Back, a British researcher and crypto-hacker, created a digital currency known as Hashcash, which has often been called the inspiration for bitcoin.

10. Maybe It's the CIA, NSA or Illuminati

Some have claimed that bitcoin was created by the CIA, NSA or Illuminati. Their perspective, however, is considered to be no more than a conspiracy theory.

References

Bitcoin.com, B. (2018). Bitcoin White Paper: Beginner’s Guide – Bitcoin.com. Retrieved from https://www.bitcoin.com/guides/bitcoin-white-paper-beginner-guide

Who is Satoshi Nakamoto? The creator of Bitcoin remains elusive. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.coindesk.com/information/who-is-satoshi-nakamoto/

Who is Satoshi Nakamoto - NEWS WORLD CENTER. (2018). Retrieved from http://newsworldcenter.com/who-is-satoshi-nakamoto/

© 2018 Solomon Magawi

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