Bitcoin Pioneer: Satoshi Nakamoto

Who is the mysterious creator of bitcoin?

In Search of Satoshi Nakamoto.jpg

An entity named Satoshi Nakamoto created bitcoin.  That is what history will write and what anyone associated with bitcoin will agree with. Beyond that, there is much mystery about who or what Satoshi Nakamoto is  (or was).

Let’s start with the realities that bitcoin historians can agree upon.

In November 2008, someone named Satoshi Nakamoto invented the bitcoin protocol through his white paper which he distributed via the Cryptography Mailing list.

In the post, Satoshi states that he’s been “working on a new electronic cash system that’s fully peer-to-peer, with no trusted third party.”

Satoshi goes on to state that this “purely peer-to-peer version of electronic cash would allow online payments to be sent directly from one party to another without the burdens of going through a financial institution.”  Thus the concept and framework of bitcoin were introduced to the world.

Satoshi’s white paper is the underlying document for the creation and implementation of bitcoin. However, Satoshi was open to discussion of his ideas (it’s interesting to read the thread of comments and reactions to Satoshi’s paper on the mailing list) and his involvement with others led to modifications to the underlying bitcoin protocol.  This protocol is still being modified today but we have Satoshi to thank for its creation.

Satoshi interacted with many other developers to modify this protocol until in the spring of 2011, he exited the bitcoin community with his last post indicating that “I’ve moved on to other things.

It’s in good hands with Gavin (Gavin Andreson) and everyone.”

Satoshi’s value and status in the bitcoin community can’t be overstated. A unit of measurement of bitcoins is called the satoshi.  His writings are referred to as gospel by not only bitcoin developers but by those working on blockchain and sidechain ventures as well.

 You can find his full writings online at the Satoshi Nakamoto institute or in the book, The Book of Satoshi.

Yet, with all of this notoriety, there are no photos or birth records of the person who created bitcoin.  The mysterious “virtual” nature of the creator of “virtual currency” has been the most interesting aspect of Satoshi’s legacy.  The world inside and out of bitcoin has been fascinated by the question of “who is Satoshi?”

The search for Satoshi reached a fever pitch when Newsweek Magazine decided to reintroduce itself to the public with a cover story stating that they had found the “real Satoshi” in Los Angeles. 

The media images of chasing down Dorian S. Nakamoto, who Newsweek claimed was the actual Satoshi Nakamoto, rivaled OJ’s “white bronco chase” as another example of Los Angeles media gone wild.  The media frenzy soon died as Mr. Nakamoto denied that he was Satoshi and released a statement to that effect.

That hasn’t ended the search for Satoshi.  One of the more interesting theories about Satoshi is that he’s actually three people.  An article in Fast Company by Adam Penenberg connects the dots between three people - Neal King, Vladimir Oksman and Charles Bry.  Penenberg conducted a Google based analysis of their past writings and when compared to Satoshi's, he concludes that these individuals collectively form the real Satoshi.

 He bolsters his point by pointing out that a similar term used by Satoshi which was "computationally impractical to reverse," turned up in a patent application made by these three for updating and distributing encryption keys. The plot thickens when you realize that the bitcoin.org domain name originally used by Satoshi to publish the paper had been registered three days after the patent application was filed

They’ve all denied that they’re the real Satoshi.

Nathaniel Popper in his excellent book "Digital Gold" uncovers that his research for the book led him to a person named Nick Szabo, who actually created a similar technology to bitcoin (called "bit gold") prior to the release of Satoshi's white paper.  Szabo denied that he was Satoshi to Popper but acknowledged that "parallels" between the two exist.

Whether of not we will ever discover if Satoshi Nakamoto is a real person, a combination of real people or something else, there’s no denying that he/she/it is the creator of bitcoin.

I guess it just seems fitting that the virtual nature of bitcoin matches the virtual nature of its creator.