Satoshi Files: Martti Malmi
Crypto Basics

Satoshi Files: Martti Malmi

Created 1yr ago, last updated 1yr ago

Martti Malmi is a Finnish computer scientist and software developer who helped Satoshi develop Bitcoin during its first two years of operation.

Satoshi Files: Martti Malmi

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Martti 'Sirius' Malmi is a Finnish computer scientist and software developer who helped Satoshi develop Bitcoin during its first two years of operation, and was known for making the first Bitcoin to fiat transaction.

Source: Martti Malmi (Twitter)

Early Life

Malmi, who goes by Sirius-m online, studied computer science at Helsinki University. After graduating, he took a trainee job at Siemens. There he was responsible for compiling large parts of a website using a CMS, or content management system, which apparently involved “a lot of ctrl+c & ctrl+v.”

When he wasn’t furiously copy and pasting, Malmi researched peer-to-peer currencies. When searching through the Google results for “p2p currency,” he stumbled upon the recently published Bitcoin whitepaper, which he recognised as “the only completely decentralized solution out there.”

Malmi was also influenced by the Pirate Party in Sweden, a political party whose ideology focused on technological progress and freedom of information. He emailed Satoshi saying, “I would like to help with Bitcoin if there is anything I can do,” an offer which Satoshi gladly accepted. It’s therefore possible that Malmi was the first person to join Bitcoin, although Hal Finney arguably got there first.

Early Involvement in Bitcoin

Malmi’s first tasks included writing Bitcoin’s documentation and creating a FAQ section to help people understand Bitcoin. He also set up the first Bitcoin community forum, which later became BitcoinTalk, the most well-known crypto forum. The community would gather to discuss Bitcoin’s direction, code and any new developments. Satoshi also asked Malmi to help him grow Bitcoin’s user base and community. At the same time, Malmi started working for Whitevector, where he and his team “developed and maintained a social media monitoring and analyzing product.”

One of the early challenges Satoshi and Malmi faced was how to assign a value to Bitcoin. After all, there weren’t any cryptocurrency exchanges in the early days, so deals had to be brokered over the web or even in person. In the end, it was Martti Malmi who would put Bitcoin on the map when he sold 5,050 BTC for $5.02, which gave Bitcoin a value of $0.0009 per coin. We sincerely hope Malmi isn’t haunted by the fact that at Bitcoin’s peak of $70,000, he would have banked $350 million.
Over the months that followed, Satoshi handed Malmi more responsibility, including writing C++ code for Bitcoin itself. By December 2009, Bitcoin v0.2 was released and included Linux support, for which Malmi was responsible. For this contribution, Malmi received special thanks from Satoshi:
“Many thanks to Martti (Sirius-m) for all his development work.”

The Linux deployment was important for Bitcoin because it allowed a considerable number of developers to join who otherwise wouldn’t have.

Buying a Studio with BTC

In the early days, Bitcoin wasn’t nearly as competitive as it is now, which meant that anyone with a laptop could mine Bitcoin. By 2012, Malmi had managed to mine a whopping 55,000 BTC just using his laptop. He had sold most of this sum by 2012, when Bitcoin’s price hovered between $15-30, and bought a studio apartment in Helsinki.

Malmi wasn’t upset by his missed earnings, however. He said:
“Big deal for a 22-year-old who never had much money. Probably the most expensive studio in the world now, but at least I got more than two pizzas.”
The “two pizzas" refers to Lazlo Hanyecz, who bought two pizzas for 10,000BTC.

The studio apartment Malmi bought with his Bitcoin. Image by @marttimalmi.

Malmi later admitted that selling early was “regretful, but then again, with the early Bitcoiners we set in motion something greater than personal gain.” This was a view he later affirmed when he said, “you don't live forever. Pursuing something greater than yourself brings meaning in life.”

It's lucky that Malmi saved any of this Bitcoin at all. In fact, it’s only because Satoshi personally asked him to run a node that he had any left over. He said:

“Perhaps owing to Finnish culture, idealistic mentality and lack of life experience, I never thought much about making money. It happened accidentally as a byproduct of Satoshi asking me to keep my node running so others could connect. Thank you, Satoshi.”

Satoshi left his final message on the Bitcointalk forums in December 2010; the last email anyone received from him was in April the following year. He left Gavin Andresen in charge of development, and told the community they were in “good hands.” At this point Bitcoin’s community had grown considerably, which might have encouraged an experienced developer like Malmi to take on even more responsibility, or perhaps even work on Bitcoin full time. But surprisingly, he left less than a year after Satoshi.

Malmi said that after Satoshi left, he found the project “less inspiring and exciting than in the early days, when none of the potential of Bitcoin had yet been realized.”

"I think it was more exciting when nobody knew about it," he said. "Now it's mainstream, it has lots of very skilled developers, so I can do the same as Satoshi and move on to other projects."

Since leaving Bitcoin, Malmi still hangs out in the Bitcoin forums and discusses new developments and controversies as they arise, but he no longer plays a central role in Bitcoin’s development. And he’s thankful for having had the opportunity to work on such an important project.

“Thank you, Satoshi and others who have made Bitcoin what it is today. May it bring peace and prosperity to the world. Long live Bitcoin.”
Today, Malmi is working on a digital reputation system, Identifi, and decentralized database GUN, and is launching a new cryptocurrency, AXE.

The Evidence That Martti Malmi Could Be Satoshi

#1 He Has the Technical Ability

Malmi’s degree in computer science, his experience working as a developer, as well as his two years working on Bitcoin more than prove that he has the programming ability to have created Bitcoin.

#2 The Timeline Fits

Malmi was working as a trainee at Siemens when Satoshi developed Bitcoin. He probably had enough spare time to have built Bitcoin in his spare time.

The Evidence That Martti Malmi Likely Isn’t Satoshi

#1 He Says He Isn’t

Each time someone has asked Malmi whether he’s Satoshi, he has politely denied it.

#2 He Worked Closely with Satoshi

Unless he was playing 4D chess and replying to himself for two whole years, Malmi worked closely with Satoshi in the very early days of Bitcoin, helping to grow the user base and community. Satoshi even acknowledge Malmi’s contributions, giving thanks “for all his development work.”

So, do you think Martti Malmi created Bitcoin?

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