Who really is Satoshi Nakamoto, the creator of Bitcoin?

Lavina Daryanani
SourceL: Euronews

Right when you hear the name Satoshi Nakamoto, the picture of a person—probably of Japanese origin—wearing a hoodie would crop up in your head. Several theories about what you’ve heard or read would likely flash alongside.

As such, Satoshi Nakamoto created the world’s first decentralized crypto, Bitcoin. Well, at least that’s what people from the space believe. Per speculations, he abandoned the project after a point in time [in late 2010] and chose the said name to remain unidentified.

The Bitcoin creation tale

Bitcoin’s code started being written in 2007 and towards the latter half of 2008, the domain name bitcoin.org was purchased. In the subsequent months, the project’s whitepaper titled titled “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System” was published, while by January 2009, the blockchain was launched and the first block—the genesis block—was mined.

Nakamoto continued working, modifying the source code and collaborating with other developers until mid-2010. Post that, he transferred a set of domains to various members of the Bitcoin community. The control of the source code repository and network alert key was handed over to Gavin Andresen, and within no time, he brought a halt to his involvement with the project.

Satoshi’s net worth

Per reports, Satoshi’s wallet still owns nearly 5% of all the Bitcoin ever mined, but no one has ever processed a transaction through the wallet address. Thus, the estimated net worth of Satoshi Nakamoto was around $48 Billion as of December 2021.

Until recently, Satoshi Nakamoto’s net worth made him the richest person to ever exist in the crypto space. However, earlier in January this year, Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao made it to the top spot.

The dip in the asset’s value in January brought down Satoshi’s net worth to $45.8 billion by mid-January.

Who could be Satoshi Nakamoto?

Well, time and again people have joined the dots and have put forth a host of candidates whom they think could be the founder of BTC. A couple of people have outrightly come forward claiming that they’re the OG Bitcoin creator. Nonetheless, none of the evidence pieces have been cent percent convincing.

On the P2P Foundation’s profile, Nakamoto claimed to be a 37-year-old male who lived in Japan. Nonetheless, many continue to speculate he is unlikely to be Japanese, given his fluency in English.

Others, however, perceive Nakamoto to be a team of people. For instance – Dan Kaminsky, a security researcher who read the Bitcoin code suspects Nakamoto to either be a “team of people” or a “genius.” Gavin Andresen has, time and again, asserted that Nakamoto was a “brilliant coder,” but his code was “quirky.” Laszlo Hanyecz, a developer who had emailed Nakamoto, had the feeling the code was “too well designed” for one person.

Top contenders – Nick Szabo, Craig Wright, Dorian Nakamoto

However, here are the top contenders who could perhaps be Nakamoto:

a) Nick Szabo

Nick Szabo—a decentralized currency enthusiast—is known to have been interested in using pseudonyms in the 1990s. Notably, he was one of the pioneers of the whole concept of cryptos and the digital asset class.

Szabo was the principal who created the—now-defunct—Bit Gold project in 1998, which was the first attempt to create a virtual, decentralized currency. Per speculators, his techniques and ideas in the said project—right from the inclusion of a PoW model to the usage of mining blocks on the blockchain—went on to directly inspire the creation of Bitcoin.

Szabo has, nonetheless, claimed not to Nakamoto. Back in 2014, he said to financial author Dominic Frisby,

“I’m afraid you got it wrong doxing me as Satoshi, but I’m used to it.”

Interestingly, towards the end of 2021, Tesla CEO Elon Musk had stated that he believed that the person behind the Nakamoto pseudonym is Nick Szabo. In a free-wheeling conversation with podcaster Lex Fridman, the exec stated,

“He seems to be the one more responsible for the ideas behind Bitcoin than anyone else. He claims not to be Nakamoto, but I’m not sure that’s neither here nor there.”

Additionally, a study from Aston University Centre for Forensic Linguistics in 2014, which analyzed the Bitcoin whitepaper with Szabo’s other published material concluded that Szabo was undoubtedly behind the whitepaper’s creation. Per the researchers, the number of linguistic similarities between Szabo’s writing and the Bitcoin whitepaper was uncanny and none of the other possible authors was anywhere near as good of a match.

b) Craig Wright

Craig Wright—an Australian computer scientist—self-claimed to be the creator of Bitcoin. Per a 2015 Wired article, he “either invented bitcoin or is a brilliant hoaxer who very badly wants us to believe he did.”

Around the same time, Craig Wright took down his Twitter account and neither he nor his ex-wife responded to the press. The same day, the Gizmodo website published a story, backed with evidence, obtained by a hacker who broke into Wright’s email accounts and claimed that Satoshi Nakamoto was a joint pseudonym for Craig Steven Wright and computer forensics analyst David Kleiman.

Nonetheless, a host of Bitcoin promoters remain to be unconvinced by the reports. Further reports also raised the possibility that the evidence provided was an elaborate hoax.

However, Wright did not stop there. In 2019, he registered a US copyright for the Bitcoin white paper and the code for Bitcoin 0.1. Wright’s team claimed that this was “government agency recognition of Craig Wright as Satoshi Nakamoto.” In response to the same, the United States Copyright Office issued a press release clarifying that that was not the case.

In a development that took place towards the end of last year, Wright however won the court battle for the Bitcoin fortune worth billions. However, question marks still hang as to whether or not he is the actual creator of the king-coin.

c) Dorian Nakamoto

A 2014 Newsweek article penned by Leah McGrath Goodman identified Dorian Prentice Satoshi Nakamoto—a Japanese American man living in California—whose birth name is Satoshi Nakamoto. Other than the name, Goodman brought to light several facts that suggested he was the Bitcoin creator.

What’s important to note is that the journalist highlighted that when she asked Nakamoto about Bitcoin during a brief in-person interview, he seemed to confirm his identity as the Bitcoin founder by stating,

“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.”

Around the same period, Nakamoto’s P2P Foundation account posted its first message in five years, stating: “I am not Dorian Nakamoto.”

During the subsequent full-length interview, Dorian Nakamoto denied all connections to Bitcoin. He had stated that he never heard of the currency before, and he had misinterpreted Goodman’s question.

Later on, the P2P Foundation account posted another message that stated that it had been hacked, and thus, the authenticity of the ‘not Dorain Nakamoto’ message remains to be questionable.

Bottom line

Well, several candidates may come and go, but until Nakamoto comes upfront and reveals his identity, the speculations would keep happening.