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Crypto Basics

Who Is Satoshi Nakamoto?

Published on:
September 4, 2020

There's a lot we don't know about Satoshi Nakamoto — but does unmasking the creator of Bitcoin even matter?

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The Bitcoin white paper was the document that fired the starting gun on the cryptocurrency movement — painting the compelling vision of a peer-to-peer electronic cash system. 

It was pseudonymously written by Satoshi Nakamoto, a cryptographic pioneer who demonstrated how digital currencies could mount a challenge to central banks. A few months later, the genesis block was mined, and Bitcoin transactions took place for the first time.

Although the white paper was exceptionally detailed, there's one burning question that cryptocurrency enthusiasts still have, 12 years on: who is Satoshi Nakamoto

Unmasking the Creator of Bitcoin

There's a lot we don't know about Satoshi Nakamoto. Is the author a he or a she? Does this name represent one person, or does it collectively describe a group of people? Is Satoshi from the United States or elsewhere?

Extensive effort has gone into revealing the true identity of Bitcoin's creator — after all, central banks would probably like to give them a firm talking to. Linguistic analysis has even been used to try and find the coder or cypherpunk who is Bitcoin's creator.

Several media outlets have claimed they've found the real Satoshi Nakamoto over the years. Publications such as the New Yorker have insisted Bitcoin's creator needs to be revealed. Newsweek made a splash in 2014 when it claimed that a Japanese-American man called Dorian Nakamoto was the Bitcoin founder. He took part in a face-to-face interview, but claims he misunderstood a question when he was asked about the cryptocurrency. Later, Nakamoto told the Associated Press: "The main reason I'm here is to clear my name that I have nothing to do with Bitcoin." Forbes also established links to Hal Finney, the late cryptographic pioneer who happened to live next door to Dorian Nakomoto.

OK, so that's one name we can cross out in our quest to discover who invented BTC. Let's move on to our next candidate, Nick Szabo. A researcher called Skye Grey dug deep to find unusual turns of phrase in the Bitcoin white paper, and performed an analysis against the published works of established cryptographers, citing some similarities he says he found with Szabo. Although Szabo did create the concept of BitGold in 1998, he insists he isn't the Bitcoin creator. 

Other sensational theories have claimed Tesla CEO Elon Musk could be the founder of Bitcoin, with a Hacker Noon writer pointing to his background at PayPal, mastery of the C++ programming language and ambitious ideas. Again, this was met with a staunch denial, with Musk stressing that he doesn't own more than .25 Bitcoin.

...and the person who claims he IS the founder of Bitcoin

Whereas many of these suspects have denied their involvement in tweets and articles, there's one man who claims he is the person to thank for blockchain technology as we know it: the Australian entrepreneur Craig Wright.

He has long maintained he is the real Satoshi Nakamoto and the "sole creator of Bitcoin" — even filing a claim of authorship for the Bitcoin white paper to the U.S. Copyright Office. Gizmodo did end up running a piece in 2015 with documents that suggested Satoshi Nakamoto was a pseudonym used by Craig Wright and the late computer scientist David Kleiman. Wired magazine described him as an "unknown Australian genius."

The Bitcoin community is divided over the Australian academic's claims, with some claiming it's all a stunt. 

We may never know the true identity of Satoshi, the driving force behind decentralized currency. Some in the crypto world are nervous about efforts to name Satoshi, and believe in letting sleeping dogs lie. But for now, expect endless debate on Reddit to continue about who penned, Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System.


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