Dorian Prentice Satoshi Nakamoto is a Japanese American man who was outed as the brains behind Bitcoin by Newsweek in March 2014.
Source: CBS News
Dorian Prentice Satoshi Nakamoto was born in the summer of ‘49 in Beppu, Japan. His mother Akikio brought him up in the Buddhist tradition, and his family count the Samurai as well as Buddhist priests among their ancestors. In ‘59, when Dorian was ten years old, Akiko divorced her husband - Dorian’s father, and remarried. She and her new husband then immigrated 5,000 miles with Dorian and his two brothers to Temple City, California.
According to his brother Arthur, Dorian is a “brilliant” man. He showed an aptitude for science and math from a very young age, and expressed interest in some “very weird hobbies.” He has however struggled to get along with others. Arthur said:
“He is the only person I have ever known to show up for a job interview and tell the interviewer he's an idiot - and then prove it.”
Like many cryptographers, Dorian Nakamoto takes his privacy seriously. Today he rarely speaks in person or on the phone, and he encrypts his email correspondence using cutting-edge cryptography. To his family, however, Dorian is apparently quite the chatterbox. “He was always expounding on politics and current events,” his daughter said. His children also say their father kept his computing and cryptography work under lock and key. “He would keep his office locked and we would get into trouble if we touched his computer.”
Dorian trained as a physicist at California State Polytechnic University, and then took a job in defence and electronics communications for Hughes Aircraft - a company based in Southern California, where his brother Arthur worked. Around this time, Dorian formally changed his name from “Satoshi Nakamoto” to “Dorian Prentice Satoshi Nakamoto.” It’s not clear why he did this, or why he no longer wanted to go by Satoshi, but many consider it to be circumstantial evidence of his early involvement in Bitcoin.
Dorian left Hughes Aircraft to work as a computer engineer for a few different technology and financial services companies. Eventually he started working for the US Government as a systems engineer on classified defence projects. Needless to say, due to the secret nature of the projects he worked on, this part of Dorian’s career is shrouded in secrecy.
When he was in his 30’s, Dorian was laid off by one employer after another. This led him to fall behind on his mortgage payments, and the banks eventually foreclosed on his home. It’s likely this experience led Dorian to develop his strong libertarian views about how much power the government should have over the populace. Later in life, he encouraged his daughter to develop her own business “not under the government’s thumb,”rather than work for the state. He also said he was “very wary of the government, taxes, and people in charge."
In March 2014, Newsweek journalist Leah McGrath Goodman discovered a trail of evidence suggesting that Dorian Nakamoto was in fact Satoshi Nakamoto, Bitcoin’s inventor. The trail began with two proofs: his name’s similarity with Bitcoin’s inventor, and his professional and academic background.
This wasn’t enough to go to print, so Goodman dug deeper into Dorian’s professional and personal life, trying to link him with Bitcoin. Her initial search revealed that he worked as a systems and computer engineer, and that he enjoyed model trains.
Goodman found the company Dorian bought his model trains from, and then somehow convinced one of their employees to hand over Dorian’s email. She then reached out to him, initially to discuss model trains. After some polite conversation about model trains, Goodman started asking about Dorian’s work in computing and defence. His response was emphatic.
Dorian demanded to know who Goodman was and what she really wanted. She refused to explain over email; instead she offered to speak with him on the phone. Dorian was weighing up his options when Goodman finally pulled the trigger and asked about Bitcoin. Dorian didn’t reply to any of her emails thereafter.
His silence didn’t deter Goodman; she began calling him at home, trying to unearth details about his secretive work and how it connected with Bitcoin. Dorian maintained his silence, so she started calling his son Eric and his brother Arthur. They both told her the same thing: Dorian wouldn’t speak with her about Bitcoin.
Arthur, however, shared some interesting information about his older brother. He said:
“He's a brilliant man… He's very focused and eclectic in his way of thinking. Smart, intelligent, mathematics, engineering, computers. You name it, he can do it."
However, not everything Arthur said about Dorian was flattering:
“My brother is an asshole. What you don't know about him is that he's worked on classified stuff. His life was a complete blank for a while. You're not going to be able to get to him. He'll deny everything. He'll never admit to starting Bitcoin.”
The way Arthur described his older brother backed up what Goodman believed: that Dorian Nakamoto invented Bitcoin. It also matched up with what Bitcoin’s lead developer Gavin Andresen told Goodman about what it was like working with Satoshi Nakamoto. “He was the kind of person who, if you made an honest mistake, he might call you an idiot and never speak to you again,” Andresen said.
Goodman asked Andresen what he knew about Satoshi Nakamoto’s professional and academic background, to see if it matched up with Dorian’s. He told her that Satoshi had ignored every question he’d asked about his personal and professional life outside Bitcoin. “Back then, it was not clear that creating Bitcoin might be a legal thing to do. He went to great lengths to protect his anonymity."
Andresen also confirmed that Satoshi, like Dorian, held libertarian views, and that he probably invented Bitcoin for political reasons. He said:
“He doesn't like the system we have today and wanted a different one that would be more equal. He did not like the notion of banks and bankers getting wealthy just because they hold the keys."
With this new evidence to go on, Goodman drove to Dorian’s house to ask him outright about his connection with Bitcoin. But Dorian wouldn’t come out and speak with her. She briefly caught his eye as he peered out from behind the curtains, but she didn’t manage to speak with him.
Dorian and his family endured weeks of being hounded by Goodman before the police were called. From that moment on, police officers were present anytime Dorian saw Leah Goodman lurking outside his home. Unfortunately for Dorian, however, Goodman wasn’t going to give up that easily.
She caught him returning home a few weeks later, and managed to fire off a few questions while he was escorted up his driveway by the police. The officers who flanked him wore concerned expressions, and expressed their misgivings about her line of questioning. “He thinks if he talks to you he's going to get into trouble," one officer said. Goodman reassured them and Dorian that he wouldn’t be in trouble if he told her the truth about whether he created Bitcoin.
Then, Dorian said this:
"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."
Dorian dismissed Goodman’s other questions with a cursory flick of his hand, walked up his driveway and went inside. But the damage was done. This response became the keystone to Goodman’s theory.
By all accounts, what Nakamoto said looks like a smoking gun: he all but admits that he’s the man behind Bitcoin (in front of two police officers no less). And yet, despite how convincing the evidence first appeared, when Goodman’s article went live, it didn’t receive the reception she and Newsweek had hoped for.
Newsweek and Goodman were summarily hounded by the crypto community on two separate counts: first, for outing a man who clearly wanted to enjoy a private life; and second, for doxxing Dorian Nakamoto. A photo of Dorian’s house that Newsweek published contained enough detail for Reddit sleuths to find his address in less than five minutes.
Given that Newsweek had just outed Dorian as a secret billionaire, if this personal information got into the wrong hands, he and his family could have become targets for kidnapping. As such, many people were furious with Newsweek. In fact, some of the people quoted by Goodman expressed their dismay at the way Dorian’s ‘outing’ was handled.
Gavin Andresen harshly criticised Goodman and Newsweek for their unprofessional actions. He said on Twitter:
“I’m disappointed Newsweek decided to dox the Nakamoto family, and regret talking to Leah.”
To make matters worse, an incandescent Dorian Nakamoto then responded to Newsweek’s article in writing. Newsweek shared his response at the end of the article.
“I did not create, invent or otherwise work on Bitcoin. I unconditionally deny the Newsweek report. After being contacted by a reporter, my son called me and used the word [Bitcoin], which I had never before heard. Shortly thereafter, the reporter confronted me at my home. I called the police. I never consented to speak with the reporter. In an ensuing discussion with a reporter from the Associated Press, I called the technology "bitcom.""
Dorian then explained why he couldn’t have invented Bitcoin, and scolded Newsweek for the stress they had caused him and his family. During the period when Satoshi developed Bitcoin, Dorian claimed he had worked as a labourer, a pollster, and as a substitute teacher, because he couldn’t find work in computing. He also complained about the “severe financial distress” he had endured over the past decade, and pointed out that if he was sitting on a secret fortune, he would have spent some of it. “Newsweek's false report has been the source of a great deal of confusion and stress for myself, my 93-year-old mother, my siblings, and their families,” he said.
We’ve just examined how Leah Goodman and Newsweek outed Dorian Nakamoto as Bitcoin’s secret creator, so now let’s look at the evidence for and against him being Satoshi Nakamoto.
The Evidence That Dorian Nakamoto Could Be Satoshi Nakamoto
#1 His Name
That Dorian Nakamoto was born Satoshi Nakamoto and then added “Dorian Prentice” to his name in his twenties is an interesting coincidence. After all, how many Satoshi Nakamotos with programming experience live in the United States?
#2 His Writing Style
According to his wife, Dorian Nakamoto used both English and American spellings throughout his life, possibly because many of his model trains came from the UK. In written communications, Satoshi also used both English and American spellings, and alternated between tones depending on the audience. Other formatting quirks, like double spaces after periods, are allegedly also similar.
#3 His “Old-school” Coding Style
According to Bitcoin developer Martti Malmi, Satoshi “didn’t seem like a young person and he seemed to be influenced by a lot of people in Silicon Valley.”
Likewise, fellow Bitcoin developer Gavin Andresen said that Satoshi’s code writing style was “old-school,” as he used things like “reverse Polish notation,” which weren’t popular with coders who were young when Bitcoin was created. Andresen also points out that Bitcoin’s code was like “one big hairball,” and was therefore likely coded by one person.
#4 His Career And Qualifications
Dorian Nakamoto’s experience in the private sector for the US government makes him an ideal candidate to be Satoshi.
#5 The Timeline Matches
Dorian Nakamoto’s career took a dive in the early 2000’s, so he would have had the bandwidth necessary to work on Bitcoin during the appropriate time. He also endured some serious health issues in 2011 (a stroke and prostate cancer), around the same time Satoshi disappeared.
#6 He Seemingly Admitted It
When Leah Goodman asked Dorian whether he was involved in Bitcoin, 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.”
The quote’s accuracy can’t be verified, although it was apparently in the presence of the police. Assuming Goodman was truthful in her reporting, it seems Dorian actually admitted to having invented Bitcoin. He did however retract this statement after being hounded by the media.
The Evidence Dorian Nakamoto Is Likely Not Satoshi Nakamoto
#1 His Name
Why would Satoshi go through so many elaborate steps to hide his identity and refuse to answer any questions about who he is, but then use his real name? Given Satoshi Nakamoto’s blatant desire for privacy, you can be all but guaranteed that the one name he definitely wouldn’t use as his pseudonym is his real birth name.
In a way, that Dorian Nakamoto shares the name of Bitcoin’s creator almost precludes them from being the same person.
#2 “I am not Dorian Nakamoto.”
The day after Newsweek’s article came out, a message was posted from Satoshi’s real account on the P2P forum saying, “I am not Dorian Nakamoto.” Since then, the account has promoted various NFT sales, which is notably un-Satoshi-like behaviour, so it’s not clear whether the message was genuine.
#3 He Denies Inventing Bitcoin
After the Newsweek article went live, Nakamoto was hounded by journalists who turned his and his family’s lives upside down. He responded with an official statement to Newsweek stating, “I did not create, invent or otherwise work on Bitcoin. I unconditionally deny the Newsweek report.” He explained that he hadn’t even heard of Bitcoin until 2014.
#4 He And His Family Don’t Enjoy An Extravagant Lifestyle
In his statement to Newsweek, Nakamoto expressed that he and his family had endured “severe financial distress” as recently as 2013. So if he was Satoshi, why didn’t he cash in some of his Bitcoin stash? One may argue that it is due to the many eyes, including government agencies, watching Satoshi’s wallet.
#5 His Coding Style
#6 His Writing Style
Many analyses of Satoshi’s writing have been carried out in the quest to unearth his true identity; none of them concluded that Dorian Nakamoto wrote the Bitcoin whitepaper.
So, do you think Dorian Nakamoto created Bitcoin?