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Everybody loves a good mystery. The world of crypto has produced one of the biggest mysteries of the 21st century: Who Is Satoshi Nakamoto?
While there is little doubt that the person or persons who operated under the name Satoshi Nakamoto created Bitcoin, nobody knows who he, she or they might be.
What Do We Know about Satoshi Nakamoto?
We know that Nakamoto created Bitcoin. This fact is based on the famous Bitcoin white paper, “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System,” published online in October 2008.
Nakamoto was the author of the white paper, laying out the theory and operating structure of the Bitcoin payment system.
In February 2009, Nakamoto created the first ever online message board post dedicated to cryptocurrency, on the P2P Foundation forum.
In this post, Nakamoto stated, “I’ve developed a new open source P2P e-cash system called Bitcoin. It’s completely decentralized, with no central server or trusted parties, because everything is based on crypto proof instead of trust. Give it a try, or take a look at the screenshots and design paper.”
Since that first post, millions of people have followed his advice.
By 2021, at least 1 million Bitcoin miners were verifying the data that make up the Bitcoin blockchain. However, those 1 million miners represent a fraction of the total number of Bitcoin holders, estimated to be more than 100 million people.
But even with BTC’s astronomical value and adoption, we still don’t know the identity of Satoshi Nakomoto.
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Is Satoshi Nakamoto A Real Person
There is at least one real person behind the name Satoshi Nakamoto. We know this because somebody created Bitcoin’s source code, published its white paper, sent emails and made forum posts about the cryptocurrency.
But the last email from Nakamoto was in April 2011. It was a short statement to a fellow developer where the Bitcoin creator said he had “moved onto other things.”
A final forum post credited to Nakamoto was made in March 2014.
At that time, Nakamoto simply said, “I am not Dorian Nakamoto,” about a Japanese-American physicist named the creator of Bitcoin in an article by Newsweek magazine.
Since this post, Nakamoto, who was actively working with other developers in Bitcoin’s early days, has completely vanished.
A few things are known for sure about Nakamoto, however.
- First, using time stamps on Nakamoto’s posts and emails, it’s assumed that Nakamoto probably resided either in the U.K., the East Coast of the U.S., or the West Coast when posting about the cryptocurrency.
- Second, Nakamoto was known to use the British/Commonwealth spelling of certain words like “favour,” with an added “U,” rather than the American “favor.” For this reason, some have speculated Nakamoto is from the U.K. or was educated in the U.K.
- Third, given the amount of Bitcoin traced to wallets presumably owned by Satoshi Nakamoto, Nakamoto is most certainly a billionaire. Although, none of that Bitcoin has ever been removed or even moved from any of those wallets to another.
So, there is most likely a real person behind the name Satoshi Nakamoto. Still, given the world’s difficulty finding the figure, Satoshi Nakamoto is probably not that person’s actual name.
Is Elon Musk Satoshi Nakamoto?
The rumor seems to have started with a blog post on the website Medium by Sahil Gupta.
Gupta had been an intern for Musk’s SpaceX company and believed Musk’s knowledge and interests could have led the billionaire to develop a cryptocurrency like Bitcoin.
But Musk denies this claim.
Satoshi Nakamoto—Rumored Identities
There are many theories about who Satoshi Nakamoto might be. Some claim the name refers to a group of developers, and some believe it represents a single person.
Regardless of which may be the case, a handful of people have gained more traction as possible identities for Bitcoin’s anonymous creator. Here are some of the most prominent theories.
Who Is Craig Wright?
Craig Wright is an Australian computer scientist. He’s also the only person who has publicly claimed to be Satoshi Nakamoto (who has ever been taken seriously).
In December 2015, two separate magazines, Wired and Gizmodo, published stories saying Wright could have been the inventor of Bitcoin. These stories were followed by Wright’s home being raided by Australian authorities due to a tax office investigation.
Although the magazine stories were later discredited, Wright has maintained his existence as Satoshi Nakamoto.
Wright filed for U.S. copyright on the Bitcoin white paper and its early code, and he was awarded both in April 2019. Although it’s been pointed out that anyone can file for copyright. So the award itself doesn’t necessarily imply proof of ownership.
Wright sued British journalist Peter McCormack for libel when the blogger claimed that Wright was not Nakamoto. This led to Wright being awarded one British pound in damages.
The reason the award was so small: It was decided Wright had given “deliberately false evidence” in his claim that he was Satoshi Nakamoto.
Wright also wrote a letter to Norwegian blogger “hodlonaut” demanding he retract statements that Wright isn’t Nakamoto or be sued. Hodlonaut denied Wright’s request, and the case proceeded to British courts, where it was dismissed.
This September, a Norwegian court will hear arguments in a countercase that hodlonaut has brought against Wright.
Who Is Dorian Nakamoto?
Newsweek magazine revealed in a March 2014 article that Satoshi Nakamoto’s real name was Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto and that he was an out-of-work Japanese-American physicist living in California.
But Nakamoto quickly denied the claim. He responded to the Newsweek article by saying the magazine’s story had “been the source of a great deal of confusion and stress” for himself and his family.
He also said: “I did not create, invent or otherwise work on Bitcoin. I unconditionally deny the Newsweek report.”
Apparently, Nakamoto had been unemployed for over a decade and hadn’t even had internet access since 2013, when he shut it off due to his inability to pay the bill. He said that he’d never even heard of Bitcoin until his son mentioned it the following year after being contacted by a reporter.
Nakamoto then started a fundraising page for a lawsuit against the magazine.
Who Is Nick Szabo?
Nick Szabo, a computer programmer and cryptographer developed one of the first attempts at a decentralized currency in the late 1990s. It was called Bit Gold.
Although Bit Gold shares things in common with the later Bitcoin project, it was never fully described in public until 2005. Even then, the Bit Gold project itself wasn’t fully implemented.
Regardless, today Szabo’s work is regarded as one of the direct forerunners of Bitcoin, and some in the community think he might be Satoshi Nakamoto himself. Even Musk said in a podcast that he believes Szabo is Nakamoto.
“It seems as though Nick Szabo is probably, more than anyone else, responsible for the evolution of those ideas,” Musk said.
For his part, however, Szabo has continuously denied these rumors.
Who Is Hal Finney?
Hal Finney is the cryptographer who received the first-ever transfer of Bitcoin in 2009 directly from Satoshi Nakamoto himself. Some assume that Finney, under the Satoshi Nakamoto pseudonym, simply sent those first Bitcoins from himself to himself.
To corroborate this claim, it’s often pointed out that Finney was the first person to download Bitcoin’s software after Nakamoto posted the link. Although in his own words, after a few days, Finney turned off his Bitcoin mining capabilities because it made his computer “run hot.”
Eventually, Finney’s early correspondences with Nakamoto were published. These correspondences dated from Nakamoto’s publishing of the Bitcoin white paper to the early days of Finney running the software.
Due to timestamp discrepancies between the two correspondents’ computers, publishing the email exchange only added more fuel to the legend of Finney being Nakamoto.
However, Finney, who died of Lou Gehring’s disease at 58 in 2014, consistently denied he was Nakamoto.
What Is Satoshi Nakamoto’s Net Worth
Nobody knows how much Satoshi Nakamoto is worth, and this is due to the anonymous nature of Bitcoin and investigators’ inability to be certain which wallets Nakamoto owns.
It’s assumed that Nakamoto owns at least 1 million Bitcoins. At today’s prices, it can be assumed Nakamoto owns roughly $20 billion in BTC.
However, other than the original 10 BTC transferred to Hal Finney in 2009, none of this Bitcoin has ever been removed or moved from any of its wallets since it was originally mined, presumably by Nakamoto. The value of this Bitcoin, though, might be one reason why Nakamoto wants to remain anonymous.
The wealth Bitcoin has generated could lead to upheaval in any individual’s life. Not to mention, the creator of Bitcoin could also face grave consequences from nefarious individuals or even governments.
This leaves many people wondering: Who is Satoshi Nakamoto? Is Bitcoin’s creator alive? Why hasn’t he, she or they come forward? Will we ever discover the truth about the anonymous genius behind one of the most important financial developments of the 21st century?
Many blockchain experts, like Andrew Lokenauth, founder of the financial resource site, Fluent in Finance, think we’ll probably never know the answers to any of these questions. One thing is certain, though, whoever created Bitcoin wanted to remain anonymous for one reason or another, and that person (or people) has done a good job at that.