Who Is Satoshi Nakamoto?
Satoshi Nakamoto is the figure who is attributed as the
creator of the Bitcoin technology, but there is much that is unknown about the
person. For instance, we do not know what Satoshi looked like, so nobody can
say for certain whether they are a man, woman, or collective of people. The
name first gained prominence in 2008 when the Bitcoin Whitepaper was published: a
document carefully explaining how Bitcoin would work and what the creator’s
intentions were in regards to it. In 2009 the public version of the Bitcoin
software was released, but by 2010 Satoshi’s presence stopped being felt by the
community as he stopped providing updates or communicating with fans. The last
thing Satoshi said online was that he had ‘moved on to other things’ in 2011.
He was never heard of again.
Although his name is Japanese, nobody can say for sure
whether Satoshi was actually from Japan. It is likely that it was a pseudonym
as the name ‘Satoshi’ means ‘clear thinker, wise, and cunning’, ‘Naka’ means
‘medium, or relationship’ and ‘Moto’ means ‘origin or foundation’. All of these
terms could be attributed to Bitcoin or the developers of Bitcoin, and as
nobody has ever provided proof as to who Satoshi is.
Several internet investigators have taken to trying to
find Satoshi’s real identity and subsequently link it to a tangible person.
Joshua Davis, of The
New Yorker, came to the conclusion that it was either Michael Clear (a
Cryptography graduate at Dublin’s Trinity College) or Vili Lehdonvirta (an
economic sociologist and games developer). Michael Clear denied
the claim at the 2013 Web Summit. Adam Penenberg from
FastCompany argued that Satoshi Nakamoto was actually three people: Neal
King, Vladimir Oksman, and Charles Bry. He came to this conclusion by taking
certain unique phrases from the Bitcoin Whitepaper and placing them into
various search engines and seeing what else turned up. One particular phrase (‘computationally
impractical to reverse’) appeared to be linked to a patent that the three
people had filed for distributing encryption keys. Many others have argued that
Martti Malmi, a computer science student, is Satoshi Nakamoto. Jed McCaleb (co-founder
of the Ripple and Stellar currencies) has also been considered as the true
Satoshi. Jed was also instrumental in the creation of the infamous exchange Mt.
Gox which stole large quantities of Bitcoins from the public.
Do We Know About Satoshi?
Not a lot, other than the fact that the Bitcoin Whitepaper
is in his name and that he released the first public version of Bitcoin. We
also know, from several interviews, that Satoshi was instrumental in the early
development of Bitcoin and that his programming methods were unconventional in
comparison to the standard software developer. Jeff Garzik, a Bitcoin Core
developer, said that his code was not as meticulously tested as you would
Sergio Lerner, an experienced Bitcoin professional,
performed an analysis where he stated that Satoshi likely mined many of the
first few Bitcoin blocks, therefore allowing him to have around one million
Bitcoins. If those Bitcoins were unspent to this day then they would be worth
ten billion dollars.
Nobody knows what Satoshi is exactly doing now as his
last form of communication, on April 23rd 2011, was not at all
detailed. What it did state was that he had ‘moved on to other things’ and that
the project was left in ‘good hands’. Some have interpreted the term ‘moved on’
to mean that he has moved onto another cryptocurrency, whereas others have
argued that it simply means he has stopped focusing on cryptography and finance
Was Satoshi a
For years there have been rumours that Bitcoin was
created by the government as a means of controlling the future of finance; in
the same sense as how the TOR private
network was created by the government. These rumours came to light after
several people interpreted the name ‘Satoshi Nakamoto’ to mean ‘Central
Intelligence’. If governments had access to a Bitcoin backdoor then they could
use it to catch various criminals such as terrorists and people traffickers,
but it is unlikely as a backdoor would have been spotted by programmers,
considering how the code for Bitcoin is open-source. While it could be possible
for Satoshi to be tied to a government, in essence it does not matter because
it changes nothing about the functionality or usability of Bitcoin as an
independent system of finance.