I Figured Out Who Satoshi Nakamoto, the Bitcoin Creator, Is (I Think)
I solemnly swear I will not marry Satoshi Nakamoto if he’s found.
Although I’ve been curious about him for years. Satoshi is credited for writing the Bitcoin White Paper that forever changed the way we think about money. The idea has even led China to create its own digital currency.
Bitcoin has already succeeded. Don’t believe me? Look at this graph below. It shows companies and assets ranked by their total market cap. Bitcoin is bigger than Facebook or Tesla. Let that sink in.
The trouble with Bitcoin is we don’t know who created it. It’s an unsolved mystery that millions of people would love to have answered. People love Satoshi, not because of the new form of asset class he created, but for his philosophical views about economics. Satoshi changed the narrative from centralization back to decentralization (the origins of the internet).
It’s important to know that those who worked on Bitcoin in the early days would prefer that the creator remained anonymous, so often they alter stories of who Satoshi is when they feel the world is getting too close to knowing.
So, I’m going to tell you who could be Satoshi. Then I’m going to tell you who I think Satoshi is based on my own research.
The cryogenically frozen man
The most interesting person who could have been Satoshi is Hal Finney. He died in 2014 and decided to become the 128th person to be cryogenically frozen by the Alcor Organization.
Cryogenics is completely unproven. One article I read about it, suggested cryogenics is nothing more than having hope for the future. The idea we may be able to help frozen bodies come alive again is an interesting idea.
In a way, I secretly hope Hal was Satoshi. Having a frozen man come alive again in a hundred years to claim he is the Bitcoin founder, and to unlock Satoshi’s not-so-secret stash of coins would be cool. A frozen Satoshi is the stuff of science fiction and, who doesn’t love a good Star Wars film?
Hal is often thought of to be Satoshi because he received the first-ever Bitcoin transaction in history of ten coins. The idea Satoshi could have sent the coins to himself is an interesting idea. It seems dumb to me that Satoshi would do that as he knew concealing his identity was key to his project’s success.
Satoshi wrote about 80,000 words (read them all here) before he disappeared off the face of the earth in 2011. Many of his articles have been analyzed. One firm, Juola & Associates, claims Hal’s writing style is the closest to Satoshi’s.
A man who lives two blocks away from where Hal Finney once lived has the name Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto. In 2014, he was exposed as being the real Satoshi. It nearly ruined his life.
He claimed he wasn’t. Bitcoin romantics were in love with the idea he was. Dorian lived a pretty secret life. Others claim Hal used the name of this local resident to come up with a name he could hide behind. Again, I think it’s unlikely because there are several Satoshi Nakamotos that live in America. It’s more likely to be a fairytale.
Still, Dorian’s face has become the unofficial face of Bitcoin on Twitter. After his identity became linked to Bitcoin, a group of supporters put together a fundraiser and raised 100+ Bitcoins to help Dorian.
“Good people doing the right thing” was Reddit’s reaction. It sums up the ethos of what Bitcoin is all about.
Satoshi handed the Bitcoin project over to Gavin when he left in 2011. This makes Gavin a potential Satoshi in some people’s eyes.
Gavin’s writing has been deemed a very close match to Satoshi’s too. A process called Stylometry caught Harry Potter author J. K. Rowling trying to write under a pen name. The same process analyzed Gavin’s work and found that he could be Satoshi. I’m not convinced.
The Bit Gold founder
The closest thing to Bitcoin ever created is Bit Gold. The creation came from a man named Nick Szabo.
Nick said in 2008 that he was planning on releasing a live version of Bit Gold. On the 31st of October 2008 the Bitcoin White Paper was released to the world and laid out how it would work. On the 3rd of January 2009 the Bitcoin network began. The timing seems way too coincidental.
If you read all of Nick’s early blog posts (read them here) you can see a lot of similarity with the way Satoshi writes. “Unforgeable costliness” is one phrase Nick said that shows a remarkable resemblance to Satoshi.
In the Bitcoin White Paper written by Satoshi, there is one piece of the puzzle left out: references to Bit Gold. Some say this is deliberate to hide Nick’s identity as the real Satoshi. After all my research I believe Nick Szabo is most likely to be Satoshi Nakamoto.
Satoshi’s final message tells us a lot
I wish you wouldn’t keep talking about me as a mysterious shadowy figure, the press just turns that into a pirate currency angle.
Maybe instead make it about the open source project and give more credit to your dev contributors; it helps motivate them.
The 5-Word return of Satoshi
Satoshi disappeared in 2011. It’s not widely known, but I found through my research that he reappeared in 2014 for a few seconds (read the original here).
I am not Dorian Nakamoto.
Dorian’s life was being torn apart after being revealed as Satoshi. The real Satoshi clearly has a heart that transcends the idea of money and economics.
The clue to Satoshi’s identity
The first block (list) of transactions ever to be mined (verified) is known as the Genesis Block. Within a block of Bitcoin transactions a message can be left. Satoshi famously left this message on the first-ever block.
The Times 03/Jan/2009 Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks.
The Bitcoin community widely believes this to be Satoshi’s unofficial mission statement. He clearly was unhappy with the collapse of the financial system in the global financial crisis. Bitcoin was Satoshi’s answer to governments creating money out of thin air as a form of tax. Bitcoin removes the middle man, and enables the transfer of value to occur through a decentralized network protected by code.
The theory that keeps people guessing
There is one final theory: Satoshi Nakamoto is a group of people.
Michael Chon in 2017, backed up with analysis that “Nick Szabo is linguistically similar to Satoshi who had written the Bitcoin paper and Ian Grigg is linguistically similar to Satoshi who had exchanged the emails.” Maybe Satoshi is more than one person. Maybe the name Satoshi is the name of the vision rather than the name of a single human being.
Who is Satoshi Nakamoto really?
I believe it’s most likely to be Nick Szabo due to the striking resemblance of Bit Gold and Bitcoin. In a way, Satoshi is a cult figure. He started a religion. The time you spend working is stored as currency.
This currency can be created out of thin air. This currency can be devalued through inflation. The calculation of inflation itself is widely misunderstood, therefore, the store of your time is susceptible to leakage like an ice block melting away. Money is energy. Satoshi found a way to mathematically store a human’s energy and protect it with code. This is a gorgeous vision to have had and executed on.
I love Satoshi even though I may never know who he is. The work of Satoshi transcends his identity.