Who is Satoshi Nakamoto?
The creation of the first cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, is an interesting story and is still debated today. One of the elements that make this story more curious is the still unknown identity of its creator. Satoshi Nakamoto is the pseudonym that identifies the person or workgroup that attributes the creation of Blockchain and, consequently, the Bitcoin. Under that alias, the domain bitcoin.org was registered on November 1st, 2008. Shortly after that, an article titled: "Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System" was posted to a cypherpunk email list on metzdowd.com.
The fact that this article, known as “the Bitcoin Whitepaper”, comes to light among a cypherpunk group says a lot about Nakamoto's ideology. Cypherpunks build anonymous systems, defending their privacy with crypto. They publish their open-source code so that their groupmates can experiment with it. A philosophy that certainly influenced the origins of cryptocurrencies, and its creator.
Following the creation of the genesis block of Bitcoin's first blockchain, the message recorded by Nakamoto sheds light on his ideas. He clarifies that his proposal for a decentralized electronic payment system was a response to the crisis of the traditional model of trust in the financial system, claiming: "do not trust banks, trust mathematics".
The first developers who contacted Nakamoto to collaborate in the creation of Bitcoin assure that they do not know more personal information than what he himself describes in his profile of the P2P Foundation: He claimed to be a mathematician and cryptographer, born on April 5th, 1975, and resident in Japan. However, speculation doubted his origin given its perfect use of the English language, the use of British expressions, and the fact that the protocols to develop the Bitcoin are neither documented nor labeled in Japanese.
The most probable suspects
The main speculations about the identity of Satoshi affirm that code with such quality could only have been developed by a genius, or by a group of people. After a long history of investigations, there is a list of people accused of hiding behind the identity of Satoshi Nakamoto:
Dorian Nakamoto: He is the best-known candidate, and the least likely. In 2014, Newsweek magazine published an article targeting him as the creator of Bitcoin, based on an interview with journalist Leah McGrath Goodman, who releases dubious statements about having worked on Bitcoin. However, the entire incident was left as a misunderstanding.
Nick Szabo: He is an American cryptographer, considered the father of smart contracts. He was suspected of having created a theoretical mechanism for a decentralized digital currency quite similar to the logic of Bitcoin. He also used pseudonyms on other occasions and was one of the first supporters of Bitcoin. However, Nick Szabo denied these suspicions.
Wei Dai: He is a computer engineer who has made multiple contributions to the field of cryptography. It is also the creator of b-money, a predecessor of the first cryptocurrency and used as a reference for its design.
Hal Finney: He is a Cryptographer and enthusiastic cypherpunk activist, inventor of the first Proof of Work (PoW) system, which would later be implemented in Bitcoin. He was the first person to receive Bitcoins and one of the first developers of the software.
All these previous options were discarded, appearing in 2015 the candidate that has caused the most media noise. The strongest arguments to date point to Craig Steven Wright as the possible real identity for Satoshi Nakamoto.
Craig is an Australian computer scientist and entrepreneur. In his own blog he publicly declares on May 2nd, 2016 to be the person hidden behind the mysterious identity. In his plea, he apparently used the private key associated with the first Bitcoin transaction, although hours later several members of the Bitcoin community proved that the cryptographic evidence was invalid.
Following the ruling, Craig promised to present strong evidence that allegedly supported his statement and clears up the confusion. Finally, on May 5th, 2016, it released a statement in which he admitted not being prepared to assume such responsibility. His interest in appearing in public claiming to be Satoshi without strong evidence contradicts the cypherpunk ideology from which the cryptocurrency was born.
In conclusion, none of the theories about the real identity of the "father" of the first cryptocurrency have been confirmed. Until today, it remains an unresolved mystery.
The reasons for Satoshi Nakamoto's unknown identity
There has been no shortage of assumptions about Satoshi's motives for keeping his real identity secret, being a person, or a group of them. It is presumed that these could be to circumvent the drawbacks of fame, to maintain its security, and finally, to avoid possible government accusations for some criminal uses of Bitcoin.
Amid the controversy generated by the alleged identification of Satoshi as Craig Steven Wright, and subsequent dismissal of this possibility, an email was spread among a list of Bitcoin Core developers. The sending address was the one officially associated with Nakamoto (firstname.lastname@example.org), by which he declared: "I am not Craig Wright. We are all Satoshi". From this, it is assumed that his anonymity is based on his intention to not use his identity to be an authority, maintaining the decentralized spirit of Bitcoin.
Despite these reasons, the main concern about the anonymity of their identity lies in the fact that Satoshi's Bitcoin Wallet, which has been inactive for years, contains at least 7.5% of all Bitcoin. In this way, considerable power over the value of this cryptocurrency resides in an unknown person, a fact that makes nervous not a few involved in the crypto market.
Acknowledgments to Satoshi Nakamoto
Despite the lack of knowledge of his real identity, in 2015 Satoshi Nakamoto was the winner of The Economist's Innovation Award, for being responsible for an invention that could radically alter the international financial system. However, the anonymous nature of his identity cost him the revocation of the nomination proposal for the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2016.
In honor of Satoshi Nakamoto, the definition of a Satoshi has been incorporated in the Oxford English Dictionary since 2019 as “the smallest monetary unit in the bitcoin digital payment system, equal to one hundred millionth of a Bitcoin,” or 0.00000001 BTC.
Whatever the real identity of its creator is, it proved against all odds that new decentralized alternatives can be found in the face of prevailing rigid operating models. His creation marked a milestone that revolutionized the world forever and inspired multiple projects based on his philosophy.