Bitcoin was launched in 2008 when someone under the pseudonym ‘Satoshi Nakamoto released the white paper detailing the Bitcoin protocol and how blockchain technology could be applied to financial transactions.
Since the release of the white paper, Bitcoin has gained incredible popularity and notoriety, paving the way for other digital currency to emerge and create an entire economy and ecosystem around these digitized assets.
But the pressing questions remain on everyone’s mind: Who is this Satoshi Nakamoto who unleashed this bitcoin phenomenon to the world?
...and where is he from? How many Bitcoin does he hold? Is one person the creator or a group of people? Is it even a male? Is he still alive?
The questions are endless. We still don’t have a definitive answer to the ultimate, ‘who is Satoshi Nakamoto’, but there are a few theories to explore
Why does it matter?
Well, at this point you might just be asking yourself, why does it even matter who Satoshi is?
Uncovering the identity of this man could have a potentially massive impact on the economics and internal politics within the Bitcoin and cryptocurrency market and communities. The original whitepaper referred to Bitcoin as a “peer-to-peer electronic cash system’ that has ballooned to become a realistic form of currency.
He disappeared in 2011 after a couple of years of collaboration with other developers and programmers on Bitcoin’s software and protocol. Nakamoto ended the relationship and communications by claiming to have ‘moved on to other things.’
However, Nakamoto supposedly didn’t walk away without anything for his contributions. Instead, researchers estimate that Nakamoto had around one million Bitcoin before leaving the project for good. Under today’s prices, that puts Nakamoto’s worth at over $8 billion, making him one of the world’s richest people in the world.
With that large of a position, Nakamoto potentially can hurt the currency through a massive sell-off. Those one million Bitcoin account for 5% of the entire 21 million coin supply for Bitcoin. Whoever is behind Satoshi Nakamoto has the power to flood the markets with a massive amount of Bitcoin. So that’s why people are so curious who is hiding behind the Nakamoto facade.
Does the NSA know who Nakamoto is?
Whoever is behind Satoshi Nakamoto has gone to great lengths to keep their identity hidden, using encryption techniques and obfuscation methods to keep communications secret. However, the NSA has sneaky tools at their disposal, and even if they haven’t confirmed his identity, Nakamoto has left some clues.
Over the years of communicating with his team, Nakamoto left thousands of emails and posts to be publicly found. Stylometry is a technique of comparing texts to find patterns and determine identity through predictive authorship of a specific piece of writing. So if you have the vast resources like the NSA at your disposal, you can parse through trillions of writing samples online from around the world and compare them with known examples from Nakamoto.
A Medium post explained how the NSA could identify someone like Nakamoto from their writing:
“By taking Satoshi’s texts and finding the 50 most common words, the NSA was able to break down his text into 5,000-word chunks and analyze each to find the frequency of those 50 words. The result is a unique 50-number identifier for each chunk. The NSA then placed each of these numbers into a 50-dimensional space and flattened them into a plane using principal components analysis. The result is a ‘fingerprint’ for anything written by Satoshi that could easily be compared to any other writing.”
Apparently, the NSA was able to collect trillions of writings to compare to the Nakamoto samples, and within a month found a positive match to pinpoint the identity. Of course, those details are not publicly revealed. But the NSA was probably checking that this person behind the digital currency phenomenon wasn’t a Chinese or Russian agent.
Who are the candidates?
We can’t confirm the identity behind the infamous Nakamoto, but we can explore the list of potential candidates. Nakamoto claims to be Japanese, but his use of perfect English seems to lead others to believe otherwise. On top of that, Nakamoto’s use of British English in the code for Bitcoin has some claiming that he’s British. Some have even pointed to the comprehensive list of timestamps from his posts, with no activity during night hours in the UK. Of course, this could all mean that Nakamoto might be a group of people rather than a single person.
So who could it be? Here are some of the leading popular choices:
One of the early theories on Nakamoto’s true identity was Nick Szabo, who is a cryptocurrency enthusiast that published “Bit Gold” as a predecessor in the concept of decentralized currency. Researchers have tried to run writing tests to pin down Szabo as Nakamoto, and have found several phrases to be a match. However, this could prove to be a coincidence as Szabo adamantly denies being Satoshi Nakamoto.
Dorian Prentice Satoshi Nakamoto
Some have pointed to a California resident that was born under the name Satoshi Nakamoto. He is a Japanese man with the full name Dorian Prentice Satoshi Nakamoto. A Newsweek columnist raised the suspicion in an article back in 2014 that detailed Nakamoto’s libertarian background as a motivating factor behind Bitcoin, along with a quote taken out of context about Nakamoto’s work and occupation.
Finney is another popular choice among the virtual currency community. He was one of the early pioneers of Bitcoin and was using the software and improving it along with Nakamoto. He’s also claimed to be the first recipient of a Bitcoin transaction back when Nakamoto sent ten coins to himself. Then a journalist for Forbes, Andy Greenberg, claims there’s a chance he might have been the ghostwriter for Nakamoto, aiding Finney with the creation of Bitcoin and, in the process, created a pseudonym in the process. There is also speculation around Finney’s correspondence with Nick Szabo during the initial stages of the project, and his residence is suspiciously located only blocks away from Dorian Prentice Satoshi Nakamoto. There might be some dots that connect…
But even if we don’t ever get the satisfaction of learning the true identity of the creator of Bitcoin, maybe that’s the best way forward for Bitcoin and cryptocurrency market as a whole. Whoever led the charge behind Satoshi Nakamoto probably understood the importance of anonymity for personal safety, and most importantly the sake of the project.
The concept of a ghost creating a decentralized currency is a very characteristic way to birth the cryptocurrency philosophy. For all the libertarian-minded individuals who bought into the concept of blockchain technology, the decentralized aspect and threat to the current systems in our world is a key driver behind the blockchain technology’s rapid adoption.
So ease your mind, and accept the fact that it might be best for the world to be left in awe and wonder at the true creation of Bitcoin and the virtual currency world we now live in.