Possibly one of the most intriguing things about Bitcoin is the story of its creation. In the center of it lies one of the biggest mysteries – who created it? No one knows for sure, but there are many theories about who it may be. Let’s dive into the story of the creation of Bitcoin and some of the most popular theories surrounding its creator.
Bitcoin’s Origin Story
On October 31st, 2008, a member of a cryptography mailing list named Satoshi Nakamoto published a whitepaper proposing a fully peer-to-peer electronic cash system that needed no third parties. This system was named Bitcoin. The first Bitcoin was mined on January 3rd, 2009, marking the beginning of cryptographic currencies, or cryptocurrency. Bitcoin and Satoshi became popular names in the cryptography scene, but then in April 2011, he vanished from the internet.
Theories of Satoshi’s Identity
The first theory is that Satoshi Nakamoto is a middle-aged man living in Japan, as evidenced by his profile information on the p2p Foundation’s forum. However, many people don’t believe this, since Satoshi has left some clues about his identity in his writing. For example, in the first Bitcoin block that was mined, he included the legendary message, “The Times 03/Jan/2009 Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks”, which is a line from English newspaper Times of London. Additionally, Satoshi uses language like “maths”, “flavour”, and “flat” – commonly used by British people. While this definitely builds a case for Satoshi being British, it’s very possible that he used his language as a clever way to mask his identity even more.
The second theory is that Satoshi isn’t just a person, but a team of people. Due to the complexity of code and knowledge about economics, cryptography, and peer-to-peer networking, Satoshi is considered to be a world-class programmer. In an interview with The New Yorker in 2011, leading internet-security researcher Dan Kamisky tried to break Bitcoin’s code with a series of bugs and attacks, but was unsuccessful. According to Kaminsky, “Either there’s a team of people who worked on this,or this guy is a genius.” It’s very hard to tell whether Satoshi is an individual or a group, but the programming is impressive nonetheless.
A Case of Mistaken Identity
Newsweek announced in 2014 that they had identified Satoshi as a real person – a retired physicist in his 60s, Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto. When asked about his involvement in the creation of 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.\” While it was exciting that the creator of Bitcoin had possibly been identified, it turned out to be another dead end. Dorian had thought the reporter asked him about a past project he worked on as an electrical engineer, and gave the aforementioned response. In December of 2014, he put out a final public statement denying all involvement in the creation of Bitcoin, and cited the amount of stress and confusion the citation had caused.
Why Protect His Identity?
Satoshi Nakamoto has good reason to keep his identity anonymous. The United States government has and will prosecute individuals who create a dollar competitor. The FBI has said that it is “a violation of federal law for individuals . . . to create private coin or currency systems to compete with the official coinage and currency of the United States.” Another reason Satoshi may want to remain anonymous is the large amount of Bitcoin he holds. It is estimated that Satoshi owns about 1 million Bitcoin, worth about 20 billion dollars at today’s prices.
Will We Ever Know?
Unfortunately, it’s very likely that the world will never know the true identity of Satoshi Nakamoto. Part of the excitement about Bitcoin is about the mystery of its creation, and how it came to be. Whether we know Satoshi’s identity or not, Bitcoin still stands as the first cryptocurrency and will likely be around for a long time.