Who is Satoshi Nakamoto? Theories about the founder of the Bitcoin ecosystem and the most enigmatic figure in crypto covered in today’s throwback. Explore with the BTCMEX Blog!

From Dorian Nakamoto and Elon Musk to a time traveler, a space alien, an AI, or groups such as the NSA, CIA, and Yakuza – all of them at some point were candidates to be the first cryptocurrency inventors. Satoshi Nakamoto is a pseudonym used by the author of the whitepaper and the developer of the “peer-to-peer electronic cash system”, known today as Bitcoin. Nakamoto was also the first to solve the double-spending problem for digital currency. Till now it is still unclear if Nakamoto is a single person or a group of people.

The facts behind the mystery 

Satoshi Nakamoto is the name used by the inventor/s of the protocol used in the Bitcoin cryptocurrency. Nakamoto proposed a decentralized approach to transactions, based on Proof-of-Work, creating a historical record that cannot be changed. In August 2008 the domain name bitcoin.org has been registered, followed by the release of the Bitcoin whitepaper same year, in October.

Nakamoto generated first 50 BTC as a reward for a Genesis block, mined on January 3, 2009. The block contains the message: “The Times 03/Jan/2009 Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks”, referring to a headline in the UK newspaper The Times, published the same day. Many speculate about Satoshi’s British origin because of his language usage, despite him claiming to be a 37-year-old male who lived in Japan on his P2P Foundation profile in 2012. 

More that 500 Satoshi’s posts on Bitcointalk were analyzed by Stefan Thomas, a Swiss coder and active community member. He found out that there were almost no publications between 2 pm and 8 pm Japanese time, and cast a shadow on Nakamoto’s physical location. 

In 2010, Satoshi Nakamoto stopped all the communication and disappeared. Bitcoins owned by Satoshi have never been moved or spent, which is recorded on the network. 

Most recently, on May 21st, 2020, a twitter account that monitors various blockchains and reports large transactions – @whale_alert – tweeted “40 #BTC (391,055 USD) transferred from possible #Satoshi owned wallet (dormant since 2009) to unknown wallet. The coins in this transaction were mined in the first month of Bitcoin’s existence.”

Top 10 Nakamotos

Speculation about Satoshi’s true identity has mostly focused on a number of cryptography and computer science experts, living in the United States and various European countries

1. Hal Finney

The receiver of the first Bitcoin transaction, Hal Finney was often named the father of Bitcoin. Finney is the earliest cryptocurrency adopter and reportedly the first miner, who installed Bitcoin client on his computer. Analyzing the whitepaper,  writing analysis experts claim that Nakamoto’s and Finney’s writings bear the closest resemblance. Finney died in August 2014.

2. Nick Szabo

Szabo is an early blockchain advocate, who invented Bit gold – decentralized Proof-of-Work financial system foregoer. He is known to have been interested in using pseudonyms in the 1990s. He also communicated on a regular basis with other famous crypto pioneers – Hal Finney and Wei Dai. Dai is also known for his attempt to create a digital currency “b-money” before Bitcoin. In July 2014, Nick denied being Satoshi Nakamoto.

3. Dorian Nakamoto 

He was outed as Satoshi in March 2014 by Newsweek Magazine. He was trained as a physicist at Cal Poly University and worked as a systems engineer on classified defense projects and a computer engineer for technology and financial information services companies. Nakamoto also has libertarian tendencies. Dorian was actually born with the name Satoshi, but denied his involvement in Bitcoin and complained that interest of media heavily affected his personal life. Hal Finney was his neighbor.

4. Craig Wright

Even if Wright is not Satoshi Nakamoto, he really wants to be! On 8 December 2015, Wired wrote that Craig Steven Wright, an Australian academic, “either invented bitcoin or is a brilliant hoaxer who very badly wants us to believe he did”. The same day, Gizmodo published a story with evidence supposedly obtained by a hacker who broke into Wright’s email accounts, claiming that Satoshi Nakamoto was a joint pseudonym for Craig Steven Wright and computer forensics analyst David Kleiman, who died in 2013. 

The crypto community concluded Wright’s claim was “intentional scammery”. In May 2019, Wright started using UK libel law to sue people who denied he was the inventor of Bitcoin, and who called him a fraud.

5. Paul Le Roux

Paul came to light as a Satoshi candidate from the legal cases around Wright. Le Roux is a former encryption software programmer and vicious cartel boss turned informant to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. After he was arrested in September 2012 for conspiracy to import narcotics, the criminal mastermind admitted to participating in seven murders. In 2019 journalist Evan Ratliff claimed drug dealer Paul Le Roux could be Nakamoto.

6. Elon Musk

Bitcoin is *not* Elon Musk’s safe word. The founder of PayPal, SpaceX, and Tesla is often believed to create Bitcoin as personal safe haven. A former Musk’s company intern claimed that Musk had both a preference and an excellent grasp of the C++ programming language like Satoshi did. Musk’s technical expertise with financial software and history of publishing whitepapers add fuel to the discussions. Though, in a tweet dated 28 November 2017, Elon Musk denied the claims.

7. Vili Lehdonvirta

Vili is a Finish professor who was  one of the first people to be suggested as Satoshi, in a 2011 New Yorker article. He later explained that had no cryptography knowledge and his C++ programming was rudimentary.

8. Gavin Andersen

Gavin is a software developer widely known for his Bitcoin engagement. After joining Satoshi in 2010, he became the lead developer of the client software, known as Bitcoin core today. He also created the first Bitcoin faucet – website that allowed anyone to claim 5 free BTC. “I want Bitcoin to be successful, so I created this little service to give you a few coins to start with,” – explained Andersen, giving away 19,700 BTC of his own!

9. Bram Cohen

Bram was born in 1975, the same year as Satoshi claimed. Cohen is the BitTorrent creator, who once ran a Usenet site called Bitconjurer.org, where he conversed with the creator of Hashcash, which inspired Bitcoin. He had similar interests to Satoshi, writing about hiding one’s identity online in 2009, and weighing in on digital signatures around the same time. Today Cohen supports eco-friendly mining. His current project is a “green” cryptocurrency called Chia.

10. Group of Companies

Some suggest that Samsung, Toshiba, Nakamichi, and Motorola together created Bitcoin. The theory is supported by the company’s names combined together: Samsung + Toshiba = Satoshi; Nakamichi + Motorola = Nakamoto.

Despite all the speculations, it’s hard to deny, that hiding his identity was the best way for Satoshi Nakamoto to promote the main Cypherpunks’ values of privacy and decentralization.