The man, the project, the mystery
There is no figure as iconic in the cryptocurrency field as Satoshi Nakamoto. No persona related to Bitcoin or any other coin is as known and yet as mysterious.
Nakamoto is the creator of the Bitcoin. Satoshi was the one who designed the Bitcoin protocol and launched it.
It is hard to overestimate his impact on the world we live in. Bitcoin is worth billions of USD; it raises questions among economists and even politicians. Miners use more electricity than certain countries (here’s how it works). Other cryptocurrency projects are aiming to change the technological aspects of our lives, starting with IoT and ending with payments.
While there are some facts known about S. Nakamoto, most of the information is pure speculation.
All we know about Satoshi for sure
There is not a lot known about Satoshi. Here are some hard facts:
1.Satoshi Nakamoto created Bitcoin protocol and sent the first transaction, received by Hal Finney.
2.Nakamoto mined the genesis Bitcoin block as well. There was a piece of text embedded in a coinbase transaction of this block:
“The Times 03/Jan/2009 Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks.”
This is a real headline from The Times that is believed to be used by Satoshi to point out the weaknesses of the existing banking system. Bitcoin, on the other hand, is presented as an alternative to it.
3. Satoshi also created BitcoinTalk, the first and largest Bitcoin-related forum on the Internet. He has an account on BitcoinTalk (his nickname is satoshi) and has posted several hundreds of messages. He hasn’t been online since 2010.
4.In 2010, Satoshi transferred the network alert key and control of the code repository over to Gavin Andresen. Since then, he hasn’t been officially involved in Bitcoin development.
Does Satoshi even exist?
Given the small amount of verifiable information about Satoshi, it is impossible to tell whether he or she is really a person.
Theoretically, Satoshi Nakamoto could be a group of programmers using the single account to communicate with the people on the Internet.
The Bitcoin protocol and all the documentation and extra software bits that come with it required enormous work to be designed. It would make a lot of sense then, if the work had been split between several developers.
If this is true, then Satoshi Nakamoto doesn’t exist.
5 possible Satoshi candidates
Assuming Satoshi does exist, then who he is in the real world? There are several persons who claimed to be Nakamoto throughout the years, and several ones who have been suspected of being Satoshi. Here are the most plausible candidates.
Dorian Prentice Satoshi Nakamoto
Born Satoshi Nakamoto, this Japanese physicist living in California has been suspected to be “that” Satoshi since at least 2014.
Back then, Leah McGrath Goodman published a Newsweek article with several pieces of evidence that Dorian is, in fact, Nakamoto:
- He has trained as a physicist and worked as a systems engineer on defense projects.
- He adopted libertarian views after being laid off two times in the 1990s.
- When asked about Bitcoin during the short interview, he said:
“I am no longer involved in that and I cannot discuss it. It’s been turned over to other people. They are in charge of it now. I no longer have any connection.”
While it is possible that Dorian is the creator of Bitcoin, it is not all that likely. For example, he later claimed that he misunderstood the reporter’s question and was thinking that it was about his previous work.
Name, libertarian views, interview answer
Hal Finney was a US-based computer scientist and a cryptographic technology enthusiast of pre-Bitcoin era. He was diagnosed with ALS at the end of 2009, and slowly became paralysed over the course of the next 5 years. Hal died of the disease on August 28, 2014 and was cryogenically preserved.
He was the first person apart from Satoshi to use Bitcoin. Hal has received the first transaction from Satoshi within few days after genesis block had been mined. He also was the first to send bug reports and actually tinker with the Bitcoin’s code. What’s more, Hal had even attempted to create his own PoW-based currency prior to Bitcoin.
Hal Finney was the one to post the famous “running bitcoin” tweet
Interestingly, he lived near Dorian Nakamoto.
Due to all these facts, there is a theory that Hal Finney was the man behind Satoshi pseudonym. The fans of the theory claim that he sent himself both the first transaction and bug reports and took the name of his neighbor as a pseudonym.
Another few pieces of indirect evidence that Hal is Satoshi come from BitcoinTalk forum. When Satoshi first published the whitepaper, Hal was one of the few cryptographers to support the idea. What’s more, his writing style is found to be similar to Satoshi’s, judging by their forum posts.
The theory makes a lot of sense given the fact that Hal knew that he was terminally ill and wanted to live the last years of his life in peace, and not under the Internet spotlight.
Similar writing style, support from Hal on extremely early project stages, background in computer science & more
Nick Szabo is a yet another computer scientist and cryptographer that could be hiding behind Satoshi’s identity.
There are several extremely weighty arguments speaking in favor.
Long before cryptocurrency was a thing, Szabo designed a currency he called “bit gold”. The currency was digital and decentralized. Does that remind you of something? Yes, that’s right, “bit gold” is based on the same ideas as the Bitcoin – and Szabo designed it in 1998!
Coincidentally, the cryptographer wrote a comment on his blog about wanting to create a live version of this currency in 2008 – mere months before Bitcoin went live.
Nick Szabo also is the inventor of the term “smart contract” – the key feature of Ethereum and many other dApp platforms (such as Lisk or IOTA, for example). He described the working principles and possible use cases of smart contracts.
Background in computer science, mentioning cryptocurrency and Bitcoin related ideas long before they existed
Wright is Australian computer scientist and mathematician, as well as a largely controversial person in cryptocurrency circles.
Back in 2015, reputable tech blogs Wired and Gizmodo brought out the idea that Craig Wright might very likely be Satoshi. Just a few hours after the Wired story was published, Australian Federal Police raided Wright’s home.
For the following few months, nothing could be heard from Wright. However, in May, 2016, he made a bold claim that he is indeed Satoshi on his Twitter. He then proceeded to prove the claim by creating a post including a cryptographic signature on his blog.
This claim has been disproved by several experts afterwards including security researcher Dan Kaminsky and Bitcoin developer Jeff Garzik. The general consensus was that Wright reused an old signature from a bitcoin transaction performed in 2009 by Satoshi.
Wright has also promised to give “extraordinary proof to an extraordinary claim”, but failed to do it. He said that he was accused of being the source of terrorist funds and risked going to jail. Because of this fear, Wright said, he will not provide the evidence in question.
Wright’s claims, background in computer science, results of Wired’s and Gizmodo’s investigations
Dave Kleiman was a computer forensics expert. His pre-Bitcoin work included developing security systems for US government, which were later used by NASA, NIST and several other organizations. Thanks to his extraordinary work on improving Windows security, he was awarded Microsoft’s MVP several times.
According to Craig Wright, Kleiman was one of the Bitcoin inventors, although he wasn’t Satoshi himself. Some go even further, claiming that David Kleiman could be, in fact, Satoshi Nakamoto.
However, this theory should be taken with a grain of salt. Apart from Wright’s claims, there is no direct evidence that Kleiman was ever involved in Bitcoin’s development or used the network.
Background in computer science, Wright’s claims
How many bitcoins does Satoshi have?
According to various calculations, Satoshi could have up to a million BTC. To give you a better idea of how much it really is – it is almost 5% of all the Bitcoins that will ever exist.
These coins are distributed among many addresses, the majority of them containing 50 BTC each. Most of these bitcoins are mining rewards from the network’s early days, when just a few people, including Satoshi, mined.
Perhaps the most important address is this one: 1A1zP1eP5QGefi2DMPTfTL5SLmv7DivfNa. It is the address that received the very first bitcoins in existence as a reward for a genesis block mined by Nakamoto.
But how wealthy would Satoshi be if he managed to sell all of his bitcoins at a market price? Let’s say 1 BTC costs 10 000 USD. In this case, Satoshi’s net worth would be 10 billion USD after selling all of his coins, making him one of the richest men on the planet.
Of course, it would be impossible due to the limited market size and other factors, but should give you a rough idea of just how much coins the creator of Bitcoin has.
Frequently asked questions
How much is one satoshi?
Named after Bitcoin’s creator, satoshi is the smallest part of Bitcoin. 1 satoshi is equal to 0.00000001 BTC.
Is Satoshi Nakamoto dead?
Satoshi’s identity has not been established for sure. Some of the possible candidates are dead (like Hal Finney or David Kleiman, for example). Given those facts, it is entirely possible that Satoshi is dead.
What is Satoshi Nakamoto’s bitcoin address?
Satoshi most likely had several addresses. There is one address we know that belongs to Satoshi Nakamoto for sure: the genesis address.
Here is it: 1A1zP1eP5QGefi2DMPTfTL5SLmv7DivfNa.
When and where did Satoshi first publish Bitcoin’s whitepaper?
Satoshi shared a link to a Bitcoin whitepaper on a cryptography mailing list on October 31, 2008. Here is the up-to-date Bitcoin whitepaper.
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