Decoding Satoshi Nakamoto

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DECODING SATOSHI NAKAMOTO

REES CLANCY



// DECODING-SATOSHI-NAKAMOTO

03


I’VE MOVED ONTO OTHER THINGS


January 3rd 2009 — Satoshi Nakamoto mined the very first bitcoin. Which was fitting, given that Satoshi is to Bitcoin as Alexander Graham Bell was to the telephone. The inventor had revealed the creation to a tiny online community of cryptography-obsessed computer scientists and hackers two months earlier. In that scene, Satoshi was already a familiar name, if not a real one. Years before the world heard a peep about Bitcoin, someone using the Satoshi Nakamoto pseudonym had been posting to message boards and emailing fellow developers, never identifying a location, a nationality, or even a real name. Nakamoto released Bitcoin and saw it begin to catch on, and then, in April 2011, sent an email to a developer friend saying ‘I’ve moved on to other things.’ After that? Satoshi Nakamoto disappeared into thin air.


CONTENTS 01

The Digital Age’s Biggest Mystery

09

The Cypherpunks

21

Bitcoin is Born

33

Dorian Nakamoto

39

Hal Finney

45

Nick Szabo

51

Wei Dai


55

Len Sassaman

61

Adam Back

67

Shinichi Mochizuki

71

Craig Wright

77

Dave Klieman

81

Paul le Roux

90

The Search Continues


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// THE-DIGITAL-AGE’S-BIGGEST-MYSTERY

THE DIGITAL AGE’S BIGGEST MYSTERY The question of the real identity of Bitcoin’s creator is one of the greatest modern mysteries. Who was Satoshi Nakamoto? Why that name? And where did Satoshi go? Beyond having invented an entirely new kind of money that has gone on to achieve a market cap of more than $1 trillion, Satoshi Nakamoto is widely believed to hold more than a million bitcoin, which would be worth over $49 billion at the time of writing. If Satoshi left clues, they can be found in the code and messages the crypto inventor wrote between 2008 to 2011. The entire output, numbering just a few hundred total messages that mostly consist of posts to a forum he created called BitcoinTalk in 2009, has been meticulously catalogued like a sacred text. At this point, millions of people have pored over Satoshi’s words, but when they were first written they were mostly read by a few dozen members of the Cryptography Mailing List, made up of programmers who specialize in inventing techniques for secure communication. Many on the mailing list identified as cypherpunks who advocated for the use of cryptography to bring about social and political change.Bitcoin was initially greeted with a collective yawn, as recalled by legendary cryptographer Hal Finney, the first person to ever receive bitcoin from Satoshi.

Satoshi Nakamoto Feb 15th 2009, 04:42:00 PM P2P Foundation

Satoshi’s October 2008 announcement, a whitepaper outlining the mechanics of Bitcoin, didn’t have the bombastic tone you’d expect from someone who understood he was about to change the world. ‘I’ve been working on a new electronic cash system that’s fully peer-to-peer, with no trusted third party,’ Satoshi wrote matter of factly. But the nine-page, equation-filled treatise did introduce a solution to a knotty problem that had bedevilled the cypherpunk community for years. No prior digital money concept had cracked what Satoshi referred to as the ‘double-spending problem.’ How can you prevent a currency with no physical form from being duplicated like any other computer file and spent over and over, the way kids shared endless copies of Eminem mp3s via Napster earlier in the 2000s? A peer-to-peer system would eliminate the need for any kind of central authority (like a credit card company or a bank) to validate transactions. The need for central authorities, Satoshi reasoned, was the failure point for earlier attempts at digital currencies.

A lot of people automatically dismiss e-currency as a lost cause because of all the companies that failed since the 1990’s. I hope it’s obvious it was only the centrally controlled nature of those systems that doomed them. I think this is the first time we’re trying a decentralized, nontrust-based system.

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// DECODING-SATOSHI-NAKAMOTO

If Satoshi is indeed only one person, he belongs to a very specialized group of programmers that probably numbers in the dozens.

To accomplish this ‘trustless’ system, Satoshi proposed a publicly available shared ledger that would document every transaction. He called it the blockchain. Bitcoin’s independence from the existing financial system was an idea that must have been particularly appealing at the time, given that Satoshi had just witnessed the global financial system melt down over vastly irresponsible bets made by big investment banks.

There are those who are convinced that Satoshi isn’t in fact one person at all, but rather a team of programmers, perhaps even including someone working inside the NSA. ‘He’s a world-class programmer, with a deep understanding of the C++ programming language,’ Dan Kaminsky, one of the world’s top Internet security researchers, told The New Yorker in 2011. ‘He understands economics, cryptography, and peer-to-peer networking.’

In the ‘trust-based mode’ of internet commerce, third parties like payment processors reap rewards for acting as an intermediary. Bitcoin could make the intermediaries obsolete. And by 2010, the idea had attracted conside able attention outside the insular cryptography scene. Journalists, hackers, and intelligence agencies have all scrutinized the breadcrumbs Satoshi left behind in the hopes of divining the Bitcoin inventor’s identity. Though Satoshi pointedly never shared any personal details in his communications, he did once describe himself (in a profile on a peer-to-peer forum) as a 37-year-old man living in Japan, a fact that pretty much nobody believes. So where was he actually from?

Kaminsky’s conclusion? ‘Either there’s a team of people who worked on this or this guy is a genius.’

We don’t know where Satoshi Nakamoto came from or where they are now. We don’t know if Satoshi Nakamoto was male or female, they’re referred to as male because that’s what his P2P Foundation profile claimed. We don’t know if Satoshi Nakamoto was a single person or a group of people. If Satoshi is indeed only one person, he belongs to a very specialized group of programmers that probably numbers in the dozens.

03

Naturally, a wide variety of characters have claimed to be Satoshi. There is Jörg Molt, a German ex-DJ with Las Vegas-magician hair who has marketed himself as ‘cofounder of Bitcoin’ to sell, among other things, a Bitcoin-branded sparkling wine. And Australian Craig Steven Wright, who according to a 2019 Wired article, ‘either invented bitcoin or is a brilliant hoaxer who very badly wants us to believe he did.’


// THE-DIGITAL-AGE’S-BIGGEST-MYSTERY

Jörg Molt is a German entrepreneur who claims to be the co-founder of Bitcoin. There‘s no evidence to back up these claims. thriveglobal.com

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BANKS M TRUSTED OUR MON TRANSF ELECTRO


MUST BE TO HOLD NEY AND FER IT ONICALLY


BUT THEY OUT IN W CREDIT BUB BARELY A IN RE

- Satoshi N

February 11th 20


LEND IT WAVES OF BBLES WITH FRACTION ESERVE

Nakamoto

009 10:27:00 PM


// DECODING-SATOSHI-NAKAMOTO

THE CYPHERPUNKS Privacy and personal liberty were ultimately placed above all other considerations

Long before Facebook, long before the Great Firewall of China, long before the Snowden revelations, the cypherpunks saw it coming. They foretold a regime of online censorship that would eclipse the open Internet. And according to the cypherpunks, there was only one tool that could ensure the Internet’s freedom: cryptography. Cryptography is the maths of codes and code breaking. Prior to the 1970s, cryptography was a relatively arcane field, practiced only by the military and by spy agencies. At the time, strong encryption (anything more than 40 bits of security) was considered to be a military munition and therefore illegal to export from the US. In late 1992, three individuals (Eric Hughes, a mathematician from University of California, Tim May, a retired businessman who worked for Intel, and John Gilmore, a computer scientist who was Sunmicrosystems’ fifth employee) who had all retired young, invited twenty of their closest friends to an informal meeting to discuss some of the world’s seemingly most vexing programming and cryptographic issues.

Rebels With a Cause Wired cover May/June 1993. Wired

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// THE-CYPHERPUNKS

The cypherpunks shared a core conviction: the Internet would soon become an important battleground for human freedom.

That initial meeting eventually evolved into a monthly meeting held at John Gilmore’s company, Cygnus Solutions. At one of the first meetings, Jude Milhon (a hacker and author better known by her pseudonym St. Jude) described the group as the ‘Cypherpunks’. A combination of the word ‘cipher’ or ‘cypher’, one of the ways to perform encryption and decryption, and cyberpunk, a genre of fiction made popular by sci-fi writers. From those humble beginnings, an entire movement evolved. As the group grew it was decided that setting up a mailing list would allow them to reach other ‘Cypherpunks’ outside of the bay area. The mailing list grew in popularity fairly quickly and included hundreds of subscribers who were exchanging ideas, discussing developments, proposing and testing cyphers on a daily basis. These exchanges took place through the use of novel encryption methods, such as PGP, to ensure complete privacy. As a result, ideas were shared freely.

This privacy and freedom resulted in free flowing discussions on wide ranging topics from technical ideas such as mathematics, cryptography and computer science to political and philosophical debates. Although there was never complete agreement on any one thing, this was an open forum where personal privacy and personal liberty were ultimately placed above all other considerations. The basic ideas behind this movement can be found in the Cypherpunk manifesto written by Eric Hughes in 1993. The key principle which underpins the manifesto is the importance of privacy. One can see this and other principles discussed in the manifesto being used to build the ideas that lead to the creation of Bitcoin.

From left to right: Tim May, Eric Hughes and John Gilmore. bit2meacademy

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ERIC HUGHES 1993 A CYPHERPUNK’S MANIFESTO



Privacy is necessary for an open society in the electronic age. Privacy is not secrecy. A private matter is something one doesn’t want the whole world to know, but a secret matter is something one doesn’t want anybody to know. Privacy is the power to selectively reveal oneself to the world. If two parties have some sort of dealings, then each has a memory of their interaction. Each party can speak about their own memory of this; how could anyone prevent it? One could pass laws against it, but the freedom of speech, even more than privacy, is fundamental to an open society; we seek not to restrict any speech at all. If many parties speak together in the same forum, each can speak to all the others and aggregate together knowledge about individuals and other parties. The power of electronic communications has enabled such group speech, and it will not go away merely because we might want it to. Since we desire privacy, we must ensure that each party to a transaction have knowledge only of that which is directly necessary for that transaction. Since any information can be spoken of, we must ensure that we reveal as little as possible. In most cases personal identity is not salient. When I purchase a magazine at a store and hand cash to the clerk, there is no need to know who I am. When I ask my electronic mail provider to send and receive messages, my provider need not know to whom I am speaking or what I am saying or what others are saying to me; my provider only need know how to get the message there and how much I owe them in fees. When my identity is revealed by the underlying mechanism of the transaction, I have no privacy. I cannot here selectively reveal myself; I must always reveal myself.


Therefore, privacy in an open society requires anonymous transaction systems. Until now, cash has been the primary such system. An anonymous transaction system is not a secret transaction system. An anonymous system empowers individuals to reveal their identity when desired and only when desired; this is the essence of privacy. Privacy in an open society also requires cryptography. If I say something, I want it heard only by those for whom I intend it. If the content of my speech is available to the world, I have no privacy. To encrypt is to indicate the desire for privacy, and to encrypt with weak cryptography is to indicate not too much desire for privacy. Furthermore, to reveal one’s identity with assurance when the default is anonymity requires the cryptographic signature. We cannot expect governments, corporations, or other large, faceless organizations to grant us privacy out of their beneficence. It is to their advantage to speak of us, and we should expect that they will speak. To try to prevent their speech is to fight against the realities of information. Information does not just want to be free, it longs to be free. Information expands to fill the available storage space. Information is Rumor’s younger, stronger cousin; Information is fleeter of foot, has more eyes, knows more, and understands less than Rumor.


We must defend our own privacy if we expect to have any. We must come together and create systems which allow anonymous transactions to take place. People have been defending their own privacy for centuries with whispers, darkness, envelopes, closed doors, secret handshakes, and couriers. The technologies of the past did not allow for strong privacy, but electronic technologies do. We the Cypherpunks are dedicated to building anonymous systems. We are defending our privacy with cryptography, with anonymous mail forwarding systems, with digital signatures, and with electronic money. Cypherpunks write code. We know that someone has to write software to defend privacy, and since we can’t get privacy unless we all do, we’re going to write it. We publish our code so that our fellow Cypherpunks may practice and play with it. Our code is free for all to use, worldwide. We don’t much care if you don’t approve of the software we write. We know that software can’t be destroyed and that a widely dispersed system can’t be shut down. Cypherpunks deplore regulations on cryptography, for encryption is fundamentally a private act. The act of encryption, in fact, removes information from the public realm. Even laws against cryptography reach only so far as a nation’s border and the arm of its violence. Cryptography will ineluctably spread over the whole globe, and with it the anonymous transactions systems that it makes possible.


For privacy to be widespread it must be part of a social contract. People must come and together deploy these systems for the common good. Privacy only extends so far as the cooperation of one’s fellows in society. We the Cypherpunks seek your questions and your concerns and hope we may engage you so that we do not deceive ourselves. We will not, however, be moved out of our course because some may disagree with our goals. The Cypherpunks are actively engaged in making the networks safer for privacy. Let us proceed together apace.

Onward. Eric Hughes <hughes@soda.berkeley.edu> 9 March 1993


// DECODING-SATOSHI-NAKAMOTO

The cypherpunks believed that the soundest economic system was one that no one could manipulate.

An early cypherpunk named Adam Back made his email signature the RSA encryption algorithm, written in five lines of Perl. Due to restrictions on the export of encryption algorithms, this was an illegal act of civil disobedience. He encouraged others on the mailing list to copy it in in solidarity.

In 1990, David Chaum spearheaded the first serious attempt at building private digital money. DigiCash used novel cryptography to ensure user privacy while solving the double spend problem. The underlying algorithm was known as eCash, first published in 1982 and later improved by other cryptographers.

Over time, the combination of legal victories by people like Peter Junger, Phil Zimmerman, and Daniel Bernstein, the development of SSL and HTTPS by companies like Netscape, the practical availability of encryption software outside the US, and the degree to which lack of encryption was hampering e-commerce ended up winning the argument. Internet advocates won the First Crypto Wars, as export controls on encryption were liberalised.

Chaumian eCash was a major leap forward in digital currencies. But in 1998, the company founded on eCash (DigiCash) went bankrupt. It ultimately lost out in user adoption against credit cards and less private payments systems like PayPal. And of course, when the company liquidated, its entire cash ecosystem evaporated.

But the cypherpunks knew that encryption alone would not be enough to liberate cyberspace. To build a truly free digital commons, you needed a completely sovereign economy. In other words, you needed a digitally native form of money.

The cypherpunks saw this failure and realized that Chaumian eCash had another weakness that had previously gone under appreciated: it relied on a single company. If digital cash were to flourish, it would have to grow beyond dependence on any central party. It would have to become decentralized.

The DigiCash team in 1995 chaum.com

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// THE-CYPHERPUNKS

DigiCash was not the only attempt at creating a digital currency. The cypherpunks launched many experiments, including Mojo Nation, a payments system for incentivized file sharing, and Hashcash, a ‘payments’ scheme for mitigating email spam. But the cypherpunks weren’t the only ones trying to create digital currencies. Founded in 1996, e-gold was one of the first dotcom companies to create a digital currency, two years before PayPal.

The US government took notice. After a lengthy court case, a court ruled e-gold guilty of money laundering and retroactive violations of money transmitter laws. The founder was found criminally liable, and in 2008, all e-gold balances were frozen. Over the next five years, the US government would manage redemptions of all e-gold account holders. To the cypherpunks, e-gold demonstrated yet another important lesson: regulators did not want digital cash to exist.

e-gold issued a digital currency backed by gold reserves that anyone could hold and transfer. At its height, e-gold processed more than $2B in transfers a year. It was immensely popular, but because it had few restrictions on sign up, the currency was widely co-opted by hackers, scammers, and organised cybercriminals.

e-gold CEO Douglas Jackson was sentenced to 300 hours of community service, a $200 fine and three years of supervision, including six months of electronically monitored home detention. Wired

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// DECODING-SATOSHI-NAKAMOTO

Various people from across the world have been working tirelessly on the blockchain technology and crypto currencies since the 1990’s and there have been multiple attempts to solve the complex issues surrounding cryptocurrency, by arguably some of the most brilliant minds in this space.

While e-gold was collateralized with gold, DigiCash was collateralised with US dollars. But both ultimately fell within the purview of the state. If you wanted to create a currency that was beyond state control, it seemed that every form of collateral came with a centralization chokepoint. So maybe, the cypherpunks thought, they should avoid collateral altogether. Was it possible to create a non collateralised form of money? The US dollar managed to pull it off after Bretton Woods and left behind the gold standard. But if you had a non collateralised form of money, you also somehow needed to enforce scarcity. Every form of money in the past, whether shells, gold, or US dollars, had some method of ensuring that the money supply didn't inflate out of control.

19

The cypherpunks explored several schemes for non collateralised digital currencies. The first attempt at such an anonymous transacting system was made by Dr. Adam Back in 1997 when he created Hashcash. At its essence, this was an anti-spam mechanism which would add a time and computational power cost to sending email, therefore making the sending of spam uneconomical. A sender would have to prove that they had expended computational power to create a stamp in the header of an email (similar to the proof of work use in Bitcoin) before they were able to send it.


// THE-CYPHERPUNKS

Every form of money in the past, whether shells, gold, or US dollars, had some method of ensuring that the money supply didn’t inflate out of control.

Two of the most important schemes were b-money, described by Wei Dai in 1998, and BitGold, described by Nick Szabo in 2005. Both schemes were designed by prominent cypherpunks and were strikingly similar to Bitcoin, but they were both missing key ingredients. We know that Satoshi was aware of b-money and he cited it in his whitepaper, and he later added an acknowledgement to BitGold on the Bitcoin website. At the end of the day, b-money and BitGold were only described in blog posts, so they were relatively underspecified. They both would have required significant changes to be workable protocols and neither had working code. As such, they mostly traded in the arena of theoretical proposals. But these two designs would ultimately influence the digital currency that would see the light of day, Bitcoin.

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// DECODING-SATOSHI-NAKAMOTO

BITCOIN IS BORN According to legend, Satoshi began working on the Bitcoin project sometime during 2007.

August 18th 2008 - The bitcoin.org domain was registered from a Russian IP address using anonymousspeech.com, suggesting that Satoshi desired to hide his or her identity from their very first interaction with the world. October 31st 2008 - Satoshi Nakamoto published the Bitcoin whitepaper to the Cryptography Mailing List. The service used was a pipermail message service hosted on metzdowd.com run by a group of cypherpunks. The Bitcoin whitepaper announcement wasn’t a huge deal at the time and really only a small number of people witnessed the message and replied. So three days later on November 3 2008, he decided to write the mailing list again pitching the newly published paper. The Bitcoin inventor mentioned some of the same things that were said in the previous message published on Halloween. A few people had replied to Satoshi at the time and one individual seemed to like the idea, but he didn’t think Bitcoin could scale.

Satoshi Nakamoto Oct 31st 2008, 14:10:00 PM metzdowd.com mailing list

I've been working on a new electronic cash system that's fully peer-to-peer, with no trusted third party. The paper is available at: http://www.bitcoin.org/bitcoin.pdf Satoshi Nakamoto -------------------------------------------------The Cryptography Mailing List Unsubscribe by sending “unsubscribe cryptography” to majordomo at metzdowd.com

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// BITCOIN-IS-BORN

The small band of early bitcoiners all shared the communitarian spirit of an open source software project.

November 9th 2008 - The Bitcoin project was registered on SourceForge.net, a community collaboration website focused on the development and distribution of open source software. January 3rd 2009 - Block 0, the genesis block, was established at 18:15:05 GMT. The block is unique because it has a 50 BTC reward subsidy that can never be spent. Alternative coins that have copied Bitcoin’s framework also use a hardcoded block to start a new chain. In addition to this characteristic, block zero reads the following message in the coinbase parameter, which hints at a possible reminder of why the cryptocurrency was created. ‘The Times 03/Jan/2009 Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks’. January 9th 2009 - Version 0.1 of Bitcoin was released online. Compiled with Microsoft Visual Studio, it was so complete that it furthers speculation that it was developed by more than one person. It includes a Bitcoin generation system that would create a total of 21 million coins through the year 2040.

Hal March 19th 2013, 20:40:02 PM bitcointalk.org

January 12th 2009 - The first transaction ever sent on the Bitcoin blockchain was from the cryptocurrency’s pseudonymous creator to long-time cryptographer and cypherpunk Hal Finney. It was made as a test and, according to Finney himself, what followed was an email conversation in which the cypherpunk described bugs to Satoshi so they could fix them. October 5th 2009 - New Liberty Standard published an exchange rate that establishes the value of a Bitcoin at US $1 = 1,309.03 BTC, using an equation that includes the cost of electricity to run a computer that generated coins. February 6th 2010 - The Bitcoin Market was established by dwdollar as a Bitcoin currency exchange. Nakamoto continued to work on the Bitcoin project alongside close collaborators like Hal Finney.

When Satoshi announced the first release of the software, I grabbed it right away. I think I was the first person besides Satoshi to run bitcoin. I mined block 70-something, and I was the recipient of the first bitcoin transaction, when Satoshi sent ten coins to me as a test. I carried on an email conversation with Satoshi over the next few days, mostly me reporting bugs and him fixing them.

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// DECODING-SATOSHI-NAKAMOTO

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The genesis block’s coinbase parameter message implies that Satoshi put it there as more than a simple time stamp.

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// BITCOIN-IS-BORN

Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks

24


// DECODING-SATOSHI-NAKAMOTO

Laszlo Hanyecz didn’t expect to make history when he ordered two large pizzas from Papa John’s in May 2010. May 22nd 2010 - The first real world transaction using Bitcoin took place when programmer Laszlo Hanyecz offered to pay 10,000 coins for a pizza on the Bitcoin Forum. At the time, the exchange rate put the purchase price for the pizza at around $41 USD. Despite the offer, many of the respondents were initially unable to make the exchange, which led to Laszlo having to wait four days to make the purchase before another user on the forum, Jercos, accepted the offer.

Laszlo May 18th 2010, 12:35:20 AM bitcointalk.org

To commemorate the transaction, the 22nd of May is dubbed Bitcoin Pizza Day, and pizza providers world wide offer discounts to Bitcoin users to commemorate Laszlo’s purchase. With one bitcoin now worth roughly $50,000, the day is a joke in the Bitcoin community, using Hanyecz’s $500 million pizzas as the punchline.

I’ll pay 10,000 bitcoins for a couple of pizzas.. like maybe 2 large ones so I have some left over for the next day. I like having left over pizza to nibble on later. You can make the pizza yourself and bring it to my house or order it for me from a delivery place, but what I’m aiming for is getting food delivered in exchange for bitcoins where I don’t have to order or prepare it myself, kind of like ordering a ‘breakfast platter’ at a hotel or something, they just bring you something to eat and you’re happy! I like things like onions, peppers, sausage, mushrooms, tomatoes, pepperoni, etc.. just standard stuff no weird fish topping or anything like that. I also like regular cheese pizzas which may be cheaper to prepare or otherwise acquire. If you’re interested please let me know and we can work out a deal. Thanks, Laszlo

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// BITCOIN-IS-BORN

Celebrating his success, Lazlo shared photos of the infamous pizza with other members of the bitcointalk.org forum. heliacal.net

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// DECODING-SATOSHI-NAKAMOTO

Bitcoin’s founder was alarmed by the news that Wikileaks was seeking to raise funds using the decentralized payment system.

July 17th 2010 - The MtGox Bitcoin currency exchange market was established by Jed McCaleb, letting people buy and sell bitcoin using bank transfers. MtGox filed for bankruptcy in 2014 after clients complained that they couldn’t withdraw their bitcoin. Its failure could have been catastrophic. MtGox was responsible, by some estimates, for 70 percent of all bitcoin ever traded at the time.

PC World ran an article on the WikiLeaks move, leading Satoshi Nakamoto to compose a now famous post on the BitcoinTalk forum. ‘WikiLeaks has kicked the hornet’s nest, and the swarm is headed towards us’. Nakamoto made it clear that they had fears of Bitcoin gaining popularity too early on. They’d make their final public forum post the following day.

December 5th 2010 - Since Bitcoin’s launch the year before, it was largely unknown outside of the Cypherpunk community. The first hint of a mainstream moment came when the whistleblowing organisation WikiLeaks began to accept donations in Bitcoin after being removed from other payment platforms. In late 2010 WikiLeaks was a prime target for the US government, and anyone providing services became directly associated with them.

December 12th 2010 - The Financial Action Task Force, an inter-governmental group that develops and promotes policies preventing money laundering and funding of terrorists, published a paper to warn about the use of digital currencies to finance terrorist groups.

Satoshi December 5th 2010, 09:08:08 AM bitcointalk.org

No, don’t “bring it on”. The project needs to grow gradually so the software can be strengthened along the way. I make this appeal to WikiLeaks not to try to use Bitcoin. Bitcoin is a small beta community in its infancy. You would not stand to get more than pocket change, and the heat you would bring would likely destroy us at this stage.

Satoshi December 11th 2010, 23:39:16 PM

27

It would have been nice to get this attention in any other context. WikiLeaks has kicked the hornet’s nest, and the swarm is headed towards us.


// BITCOIN-IS-BORN

The Silk Road, like many startups, had begun simply enough as a college curiosity.

Late 2010 - Ross William Ulbricht, who went by the name of ‘Dread Pirate Roberts,’ founded the site Silk Road. Ulbricht, a former Penn State graduate student and amateur programmer with strong libertarian and anarchist views, dreamt of an online marketplace where people would be able to buy and sell narcotics and other illicit items, without governmental interference. While the users of a Darknet site can use Tor and Virtual Private Networks to obscure and hide their identities, they had no way of exchanging anonymous payments among themselves, short of sending envelopes full of cash via the postal service, an obviously impractical solution. Ulbricht got around this conundrum by using Bitcoin as a payment method.

The real influx of users however, took place after Gawker, an online gossip column, ran an in-depth story on Silk Road. Within a few months, Ulbricht had recouped his initial investment, and was able to create a virtually anonymous and thriving marketplace for the sale of narcotics, complete with a review function of vendors, similar to Amazon or eBay. In that time, the price of a single bitcoin had skyrocketed from around $1 to over $30, a rise attributable in no small part to the increased attention Bitcoin received because of the Silk Road. This attention was unwanted by Satoshi, who was witnessing the extent to which Bitcoin was becoming a target for the US government following its association with crime.

Silk Road opened to modest beginnings, with psychedelic mushrooms grown by Ross himself listed as the first items for sale. However, Ross promoted his site on the Bitcoin forum, an act which attracted a few buyers for his mushrooms, but ultimately led to his downfall. By the end of February, 28 transactions for narcotics ranging from LSD to mescaline were conducted on the site. In two months, over a thousand people had registered.

Ross Ulbricht (bottom left) was found guilty of charges including money laundering, conspiracy to traffic narcotics and computer hacking, and is currently serving a double life sentence plus 40 years, without the possibility of parole. coindesk.com

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// DECODING-SATOSHI-NAKAMOTO

The idea that one of Bitcoin’s leading technical figures would in any way engage with U.S agencies is tantamount to heresy.

December 12th 2010 - Software version 0.3.19, Satoshi’s last, was released. Read now like the final public message from Bitcoin’s creator, it seems tactical that he chose to wind down measures taken in the wake of community friction and media controversies. Still, it’s difficult to say if Satoshi’s decision to walk away was his alone. After all, over the year, there had been a dramatic change in tone toward his leadership. As to whether he intended to leave, however, Satoshi was definite, his sign-off observable when he removed his name from Bitcoin’s copyright statements. Thereafter, he would also update bitcoin.org, adding the names and emails of other developers, including Gavin Andresen and Laszlo, to its contact page and removing his own. What little we know about the transition was represented by Andresen publicly when he claimed a week later to have received Satoshi’s blessing to ’start more active project management. ’In the interim, Andresen assumed the trappings of authority, putting out a ‘help wanted’ post and making clear to new volunteers they would now need to move the project forward.

Though many events loom in the Bitcoin lore, few compete with Gavin Andresen’s infamous visit with U.S. intelligence in June 2011. In the decade since, the event has been linked to everything from the alleged murder of Satoshi Nakamoto to the start of a years long effort to subvert the network and bring it under government control. The idea that one of Bitcoin’s leading technical figures would in any way engage with U.S. agencies is tantamount to heresy, a perversion of its most enduring value proposition, preserving the first digital money free from government influence. Not only did Andresen attend such an event, but it appears that Satoshi continued to work on Bitcoin, if only behind the scenes, up until the day Andresen accepted the invitation.

It was the kind of thing he knew would create conspiracy theories, and it did.

Satoshi April 26th 2011, 19:04:06 PM Private Emails

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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.


// BITCOIN-IS-BORN

Complicating matters, however, is that as Andresen vaulted into the limelight, it’s unclear if he continued to remain aligned with Bitcoin’s creator on project goals and vision. He would prove inconsistent in remarks, describing development as a ‘controlled anarchy’ in a March interview, yet noting he felt that he and Satoshi reserved the right to enact unilateral change if it was ever needed. The last traces of Satoshi Nakamoto’s online communication date back to spring 2011, when Satoshi Nakamoto exchanged a few emails with key users of the initial development of Bitcoin. What is considered the last verified email sent by Satoshi Nakamoto, and made public, is the one received by Gavin Andresen, which noted ‘I wish you wouldn’t keep talking about me as a mysterious shadowy figure’.

During the same days, Satoshi Nakamoto had exchanged emails with two of Bitcoin’s early developers, Martti Malmi and Mike Hearn. In a first email, Hearn asked Satoshi Nakamoto what his intentions were in terms of his involvement in the development of Bitcoin for the coming months. Satoshi simply told him that the Bitcoin revolution was in good hands and that he had decided to take care of other things. Satoshi Nakamoto exchanged a few more emails with Martti Malmi at the very beginning of May 2011 asking him to take full ownership of the bitcoin.org website. At the time of this transfer, and just before he disappeared completely, Satoshi Nakamoto sent an email confirming what he had previously told Mike Hearn.

This was followed by a separate message that contained only a copy of the cryptographic key to Bitcoin’s alert system, one that effectively gave Andresen sole control over security notifications.

Satoshi April 23rd 2011, 15:40:00 PM Private Emails

From: Satoshi Nakamoto <satoshin@gmx.com> Date: Sat, Apr 23, 2011 at 3:40 PM To: Mike Hearn <mike@plan99.net> I’ve moved on to other things. with Gavin and everyone.

It’s in good hands

I do hope your BitcoinJ continues to be developed into an alternative client. It gives Java devs something to work on, and it’s easier with a simpler foundation that doesn’t have to do everything. It’ll get critical mass when impatient new users can get started using it while the other one is still downloading the block chain.

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// DECODING-SATOSHI-NAKAMOTO

Andresen replied to the email from Nakamoto, but the Bitcoin creator never responded.

Over the years there has been intense speculation over who created Bitcoin and who Satoshi Nakamoto might be. A man, a woman, an intelligence agency or a small group of dedicated cypherpunks? Many people have faced claims that they are Nakamoto, and many denials have been issued. Many more people have claimed to be Nakamoto, but they are rarely believed.

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// THE-DIGITAL-AGE’S-BIGGEST-MYSTERY

THE SUSPECTS

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// DECODING-SATOSHI-NAKAMOTO

FIRST NAME

SURNAME

NATIONALITY

RESIDENCE

Dorian

Satoshi Nakamoto

Japanese

USA

AGE

SEX

OCCUPATION

CURRENT STATUS

70

Male

Defence Engineer

Retired

NOTES

Obvious name similarities and also lived in the same small city as Hal Finney. Has a background working on secret government defence projects.

CHECKLIST

Cypherpunk C++ Proficient British English

In March 2014, a Newsweek columnist published a story called ‘The Face Behind Bitcoin.’ She claimed Bitcoin’s inventor was a retired physicist named Dorian Nakamoto. When Goodman arrived at Dorian’s home in California, he said he was ‘no longer involved in that’ and he ‘cannot discuss it.’ The commentary prompted Goodman and her Newsweek cohorts to assume he was talking about the creation of Bitcoin, so they published an exposé about Dorian’s life.

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// DECODING-SATOSHI-NAKAMOTO

Perhaps the most compelling parallel between the two Nakamotos are their professional skill sets and career timeframes.

In 2014, Newsweek’s Leah McGrath Goodman published an exposé on Bitcoin’s inventor and her report claimed it was the California resident Dorian Nakamoto. Goodman spent two months investigating her story and one of her biggest selling points was the fact that Dorian’s birth name is Satoshi Nakamoto. Instead of being a member of the cypherpunk movement, at the time Dorian was a 64-year-old Japanese-American, retired physicist and well-educated engineer. Dorian’s life skills and occupation made Goodman and others believe that he had what it takes to invent the cryptocurrency and release it to the world anonymously. Because Dorian worked for a few corporations and the U.S. military, some of the projects he worked on were deemed classified information. The shroud of secrecy made Goodman once again believe that Dorian was part of Bitcoin’s initial creation. McGrath drove to California after studying Dorian’s life for two months and visited his house located in Los Angeles’s San Gabriel foothills. She got two police officers from Temple City to escort her. When Goodman caught Dorian leaving his home she faced him with two police officers as witnesses and questioned him about his involvement with creating Bitcoin. Goodman said that Dorian’s response was ‘careful but revealing.’ The Newsweek columnist stressed that Dorian “tacitly acknowledged’ his role in the Bitcoin project but refused to answer direct questions. ‘I am no longer involved in that and I cannot discuss it’ Dorian told Goodman and the officers that day. ‘It’s been turned over to other people. They are in charge of it now. I no longer have any connection.’

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All this made Goodman believe all the more Dorian was denying his role, and she thought she had found the mysterious creator. So the reporter and her publication Newsweek decided to run the expose on Dorian’s life story and claimed several similarities between Dorian and Bitcoin’s anonymous inventor. Following the published story, the entire Bitcoin community debated the subject but a great majority of crypto proponents didn’t believe. The biggest evidence that the article leveraged was that Dorian was a Japanese-American, worked on classified projects, graduated in physics from California Polytechnic, and when he was questioned directly he said he had ‘turned it over’ to other people. Dorian also lived very close to Hal Finney’s house and the Japanese-American showed he leaned toward a libertarian like ideology. Finney’s address was only a few blocks away from the Nakamoto’s family home. This was an uncanny link. Finney is known to be the second ever user of Bitcoin after Satoshi Nakamoto himself. He had been one of the first supporters of the idea when Nakamoto floated it on a cryptography mail list, and even received the first Bitcoin test transaction from Nakamoto in early 2009, as Finney himself wrote in a post to the Bitcointalk forum. Had Finney invented Bitcoin himself and simply used his neighbor’s name as a pseudonym? He is also smart enough to complete the project as coworkers noted that Dorian worked on ‘defensive electronics and communications for the military.’ Dorian’s daughter spoke to Goodman and told the reporter that her father wholeheartedly believed in individualism.


// DORIAN-NAKAMOTO

However, Dorian told the public shortly after the publication that he felt victimized and he misunderstood Goodman’s questions. Dorian claims he thought the reporter was talking about a classified project that he worked on with the financial giant Citibank. After Dorian told his side of the story, the crypto community was outraged with Newsweek and Goodman’s report. They complained that Dorian was doxxed, as the article contained a photograph of his home in California. All this invoked bitcoiners to start a fundraiser for Dorian in order to pay for his troubles and the invasion of privacy that the Newsweek article started. Dorian also did a video with the Bitcoin evangelist Andreas Antonopoulos telling his side of the story and he thanked the Bitcoin community for all the donations he received. The BTC address: 1Dorian4RoXcnBv9hnQ4Y2C1an6NJ4UrjX has received over 102 BTC and the wallet is now empty. This is a stark contrast to the over 1 million BTC sitting in the Satoshi Nakamoto wallets that have been left unspent for over a decade.

Following Dorian’s Newsweek expose, the Japanese American became a hero amongst the crypto community appearing on posters, t-shirts, and stickers. Dorian has appeared at crypto conferences and discussed his experience after Newsweek’s hit piece turned his normal, toy train-collecting life upside down. Moreover, with the slew of unattractive self-proclaimed Satoshis who have come out of the woodwork, many crypto proponents actually wish Dorian was Satoshi, as he’s far more friendly. People have even crowned Dorian as the best Satoshi Nakamoto suspect in years. Following the media storm that the Newsweek article started, Satoshi Nakamoto’s long dormant P2P Foundation account resurfaced, posting a simple message. ‘I am not Dorian Nakamoto.’ In September, the account posted another message saying it had been hacked, raising questions over the earlier message’s authenticity.

Dorian Nakamoto after the Newsweek article broke and reporters swarmed his house bitcoin.com

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// DECODING-SATOSHI-NAKAMOTO

I AM NOT DORIAN NAKAMOTO

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// DECODING-SATOSHI-NAKAMOTO

FIRST NAME

SURNAME

NATIONALITY

RESIDENCE

Harold

Thomas Finney

American

CA, USA

AGE

SEX

OCCUPATION

CURRENT STATUS

-

Male

Developer/Cryptographer

Deceased

NOTES

Worked very closely with Satoshi, and was the first person to receive a Bitcoin transaction. An avid cypherpunk who also created the idea of proof of work before Bitcoin.

While the oft-cited candidates are many, there’s something special about avid runner, cypherpunk and early Bitcoin contributor Harold Thomas Finney II, better known simply as Hal, that makes people want to believe he’s the one.

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CHECKLIST

Cypherpunk C++ Proficient British English


40


// DECODING-SATOSHI-NAKAMOTO

Hal Finney was the very earliest adopter and developer of Bitcoin apart from Satoshi himself.

Finney graduated from world-renowned Caltech with an engineering degree in 1979. After working in computer game development for some years he then went on join the PGP Corporation, creating some of the first ‘pretty good privacy’ the world had seen. Finney was an OG cypherpunk, a member of the early 90s mailing list and avid developer and philosopher when it came to crypto solutions for preserving privacy, anonymity and financial autonomy. Like many cypherpunks, Finney was inspired by the work of David Chaum, another Los Angelino cryptographer who had proposed theoretical systems that would use encryption tools to enable anonymous communications and even untraceable financial transactions. Finney put his programming prowess to work building the tools to enact that cryptoanarchist vision. When word hit the mailing list that privacy activist Phil Zimmermann planned to release PGP or Pretty Good Privacy, the first freely available encryption program strong enough that not even government intelligence agencies could break it, Finney contacted Zimmermann and became one of his earliest collaborators. He worked almost a full-time job’s worth of hours developing PGP 2.0, widely considered to be the first truly secure version of the program, and pioneered its ‘web of trust’ model of key-signing, a method to establish trusted identities through the peerto-peer vouching of a community of users. In fact, decades before anyone suspected Finney of ghostwriting Bitcoin, Finney ghostwrote much of PGP. Because of the legal controversy around the encryption tool’s distribution on the Internet, Zimmermann was nearly indicted for arms export control violations and Finney’s role was downplayed in Zimmermann’s public discussion of the program.

Hal and his wife Fran at APh Technological Consulting, 1978. publish0x.com

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Hal Finney retired from the PGP Corporation in early 2011. Satoshi Nakamoto’s last known email correspondence is dated April 26, 2011. As PGP’s usage spread, Finney was also the first to integrate the encryption software into ‘remailers’, free services that acted as proxy servers for email, bouncing messages among third parties so that they couldn’t be traced to their source. Those tools would eventually evolve into strong anonymity services like MixMaster and Tor, used by millions around the world today. Meanwhile, Finney never gave up on Chaum’s ideas of digital, pseudonymous currency. A few years later, Finney would even develop a ‘proof-of-work’system that closely resembled the one Bitcoin would later use. So when the idea for Bitcoin first appeared on a cryptography mailing in 2008, posted by Satoshi Nakamoto, Finney says he was immediately enthusiastic, and responded with curious questions. Finney downloaded the early Bitcoin code and began running it on an IBM Windows desktop tower machine. He’s widely believed to be the first person other than Nakamoto himself to do so. He kept it running for weeks, just how long, is not known. With no competition, he was able to mine as much as a hundred coins a day using only his old PC’s off-the-shelf CPU. But sometime after mining a thousand coins, Finney turned the machine off, he and his son were worried the computer was overheating. The stash of bitcoins sat on Finney’s hard drive and were later burned to a DVD, left to gather dust on a desk.


// HAL-FINNEY

Finney’s warm spark of childlike enthusiasm and down to earth approachability brought a human element to his work and legacy.

During his Bitcoin experimentation, Finney corresponded with Nakamoto, sending him a series of bug reports and suggestions for fixes. He would later write that while he had no idea of Nakamoto’s real identity or location, he imagined Bitcoin’s creator to be ‘a young man of Japanese ancestry who was very smart and sincere.’ In early 2009, Nakamoto also sent Finney the first ever test transfer of bitcoins. Finney said at the time he’d repay the ten coins back to Nakamoto. He never did, as recalled by his wife Fran, he had other things on his mind by then. Finney inexplicably began to fatigue quickly, slur his words, experience strange tingling, and lose coordination in his right hand. His doctor diagnosed him with ALS in August of 2009. As Finney’s muscle control declined over the next years, he continued to write code for Bitcoin. At one point he wrote up an improvement to its elliptic-curve cryptography that would speed up its transactions by as much as 20%. Even after he lost the ability to type with both hands, and then to type at all, he continued to use eye-tracking software to write code.

As for the bitcoins Finney mined in those early days, he said that he was relieved to rediscover them in 2010, still intact, as the currency suddenly began to gain value. He transferred them to the disc, and then later stored it in a safety deposit box at the family’s bank. But as Finney’s medical bills mounted, Finney sold the majority of the coins at an exchange rate of around $100, just a fraction of the more than $50,000 they’d be valued at today. Hal Finney died on August, 2014, at the age of 58, as a result of his illness. But Hal Finney was a very optimistic person, he believed in the future advancement of the technologies, and his faith was strong. He was cryopreserved by the Alcor Life Extension Foundation after he died, and he had cryopreservation arrangements with the Alcor Foundation for over 20 years. In fact, Finney and his wife both decided to have their bodies cryonically frozen more than 20 years ago. At the time, Finney, like Alcor’s president More, was an active member of the Extropians, a movement of technologists and futurists focused on transhumanism and life extension.

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// DECODING-SATOSHI-NAKAMOTO

“That's my story. I'm pretty lucky overall. Even with the ALS, my life is very satisfying. But my life expectancy is limited. My bitcoins are stored in our safe deposit box, and my son and daughter are tech savvy. I think they're safe enough. I'm comfortable with my legacy.”

Hal and his wife Fran, photographed in 2013. Wired

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// HAL-FINNEY

Hal March 19th 2013, 20:40:02 PM BitcoinTalk Forum

I thought I’d write about the last four years, an eventful time for Bitcoin and me. For those who don’t know me, I’m Hal Finney. I got my start in crypto working on an early version of PGP, working closely with Phil Zimmermann. When Phil decided to start PGP Corporation, I was one of the first hires. I would work on PGP until my retirement. At the same time, I got involved with the Cypherpunks. I ran the first cryptographically based anonymous remailer, among other activities. When Satoshi announced Bitcoin on the cryptography mailing list, he got a skeptical reception at best. Cryptographers have seen too many grand schemes by clueless noobs. They tend to have a knee jerk reaction. I was more positive. I had long been interested in cryptographic payment schemes. Plus I was lucky enough to meet and extensively correspond with both Wei Dai and Nick Szabo, generally acknowledged to have created ideas that would be realized with Bitcoin. I had made an attempt to create my own proof of work based currency, called RPOW. So I found Bitcoin facinating. When Satoshi announced the first release of the software, I grabbed it right away. I think I was the first person besides Satoshi to run bitcoin. I mined block 70-something, and I was the recipient of the first bitcoin transaction, when Satoshi sent ten coins to me as a test. I carried on an email conversation with Satoshi over the next few days, mostly me reporting bugs and him fixing them. Today, Satoshi’s true identity has become a mystery. But at the time, I thought I was dealing with a young man of Japanese ancestry who was very smart and sincere. I’ve had the good fortune to know many brilliant people over the course of my life, so I recognize the signs.

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// DECODING-SATOSHI-NAKAMOTO

FIRST NAME

SURNAME

NATIONALITY

RESIDENCE

Nicholas

Szabo

American

West USA

AGE

SEX

OCCUPATION

CURRENT STATUS

57

Male

Cryptographer/Law

Active

NOTES

Designed Bit Gold, a precursor to Bitcoin. Modified the date of his Bit Gold paper and a reluctance to make his correspondances with Satoshi open to the public.

Nick Szabo is something of a legend in the crypto space, and for a good many reasons. Not least of which are his contributions to the development of Bitcoin, his early communications as a cypherpunk, and his continued influential input in economic, philosophical, political and crypto circles since. Perhaps most fascinating, however, are compelling facts surrounding his past and present which might be construed to present him as the creator of Bitcoin.

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CHECKLIST

Cypherpunk C++ Proficient British English


46


// DECODING-SATOSHI-NAKAMOTO

Compared to some of the other figures central to Bitcoin’s inception, in some senses Szabo’s story is not as well documented.

The rise of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology that supports them may at first glance have little to do with events that took place over 60 years ago in a corner of Eastern Europe. Try to find the thread connecting Bitcoin to the Hungarian revolution of late 1956 and you’d be forgiven for overlooking it. But it does exist and it runs through one of the most revered names in crypto, someone who has arguably done more than almost anyone to bring about this paradigm shift in how we create, store and use wealth. Nick Szabo’s and bitcoin’s stories both begin under the leaden skies of communist Eastern Europe. Nick Szabo, self-described ‘Blockchain, cryptocurrency, and smart contracts pioneer,’ was working on a cryptocurrency called bit gold before Bitcoin as we know it came into existence. The legal scholar and computer scientist hailing from America’s West Coast communicated regularly with early pioneers of modern cryptography and cypherpunks like Hal Finney and Wei Dai. Dai, also a University of Washington graduate in computer science from around the same time as Szabo, is similarly known for attempting to build his own digital currency prior to bitcoin, called ‘b-money.’ Bitcoin was born out of a yearning for greater privacy and reduced oversight from governments and institutions. Privacy and anonymity are central to its development and to the beliefs of those who helped create it. Nick Szabo in many ways embodies the Bitcoin philosophy. One of the most notable things about Nick Szabo is the lack of biographical information we have on him. It’s known he’s an American and studied computer science at the University of Washington, graduating in 1989. He then read for a law degree at the George Washington University Law School. Of his childhood, early life and parentage, almost nothing is known.

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However, Szabo revealed in an interview that his father fought in the Hungarian uprising against the Soviet Union, all the way back in the late fifties. As a result, it seems therefore that Szabo grew up with a deep understanding of how easily governments and, by extension, other centralised authorities can abuse the power that they have. The power that comes from controlling the financial system is far more insidious and open to abuse. Many in crypto will point to the aftermath of the 2008 financial crash as evidence of this, the banks that caused the disaster were bailed out and propped up by governments across the world. It was in this atmosphere of the status quo preserving itself at the expense of the rest of us that bitcoin began to emerge, with Szabo at the forefront of the revolution. The proposals which he had been putting forward for years were about to break into the mainstream. Szabo is best known for his two key contributions to Bitcoin and crypto as a whole, his paper on Bit Gold and his conception of smart contracts. Bit Gold is seen as the precursor to bitcoin, which Satoshi Nakamoto would go on to refine in his bitcoin whitepaper. Smart contracts, which Szabo first wrote about back in 1996, enable the execution of cryptocurrency transactions and underpin the viability of the entire field. Quite simply, there wouldn’t be crypto without Nick Szabo’s work. Similarities to the concepts defined in the Bitcoin whitepaper are hard to miss. While the aforementioned bit gold blog post has a published date of Dec 27, 2008, the post was actually published in 2005. Why Nick edited the date is a source of confusion and speculation for many. Further, the comment timestamps appear to have been updated to only show times, not dates.


// NICK-SZABO

His achievements in the fields of computer science and cryptography, as well as his formidable understanding of the nature of money, all make him remarkable enough. A permalink to the post verifying the date as 2005, and other details present highly compelling evidence, but no answers as to why Szabo might have done this. Many speculate he didn’t want his bit gold post to predate the Bitcoin whitepaper, in a bid to conceal his identity. Further, while there is a mention of Wei Dai’s b-money in the white paper, there is no mention of bit gold, though reportedly Dai told Satoshi about it in an email exchange. Some critics of this theory argue that Szabo and Satoshi were simply unaware of one another and/or their respective projects.

Col Pal Maleter defected to the rebels when he was told to take five tanks to fight them, making him a national hero in the Hungarian Civil War. The Guardian

Also interesting to note is that while Hal Finney, Wei Dai, and others have made their correspondence with Satoshi public, there are no known emails between Szabo and Satoshi, despite Nakamoto’s awareness of Bit Gold.

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// DECODING-SATOSHI-NAKAMOTO

I DESIGNED BITCOI… GOLD WITH TWO LAYERS

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// NICK-SZABO

Satoshi January 12th 2009, 08:41:00 AM Private Emails

From: Satoshi Nakamoto <satoshi@vistomail.com> Date: Mon, Jan 12, 2009 at 8:41 AM Subject: Re: select failed 10038 fix To: hal.finney@gmail.com You can send to my Bitcoin address if you want to, but you won’t get to see the full transfer sequence: 1NSwywA5Dvuyw89sfs3oLPvLiDNGf48cPD. I just thought of something. Eventually there’ll be some interest in brute force scanning bitcoin addresses to find one with the first few characters customized to your name, kind of like getting a phone number that spells out something. Just by chance I have my initials.

Szabo’s achievements in the fields of computer science and cryptography, as well as his formidable understanding of the nature of money, all make him remarkable enough. Immediately after the Jan 3 2009 mining of Bitcoin’s genesis block one might have expected Szabo to take to his normally bustling blogging activity to talk about the project. Interestingly, Bitcoin is not mentioned until a May 7 post entitled ‘Liar-resistant government’ that year. After 2009, Szabo’s blogging activity takes a significant dip, going from over 25 posts a year, to just a few sparse updates annually.

Additionally there’s an oft-cited email Satoshi sent to Hal Finney in which the Bitcoin creator remarks that he’s haphazardly generated an address with his initials, ‘NS’. Some view these initials to simply stand for Nakamoto Satoshi, with the surname coming first in the Japanese style. Some have said the initials stand for Nick Szabo. What is less-often discussed is that Hungarian names are also given in the Eastern name order.

Perhaps most intriguing, however, is his strange embedded video post the same month Bitcoin went live, depicting cars attempting to beat a traffic control mechanism at a red light. The post reads: ‘Trying to beat the protocol can get you in trouble.’ Many take this post to be a reference to Bitcoin’s solution to the double-spend problem cryptographers and digital cash advocates had been struggling to solve for years, and which was now successfully addressed via Satoshi’s protocol.

However, the community still remains divided as to whether Szabo truly did create Bitcoin. Even Szabo himself has outright denied this claim, calling out a journalist in an email that stated: ‘Thanks for letting me know. I’m afraid you got it wrong doxing me as Satoshi, but I’m used to it.’

During a 2017 interview on The Tim Ferriss Show, Szabo stumbled on his words almost labeling himself as the creator of Bitcoin. Satoshi sleuths didn’t miss the slip, and theorized it could be a subconscious revelation of the truth. When host Tim Ferriss asks Szabo about larger blocks and second layer solutions, Szabo replied ‘I’d definitely go for a second layer, I mean, I designed Bitcoi… gold with two layers.’ The linguistic mishap could be nothing more than a meaningless accident, or it could point to something deeper. The crypto space may never know.

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// DECODING-SATOSHI-NAKAMOTO

FIRST NAME

SURNAME

NATIONALITY

RESIDENCE

Wei

Dai

Chinese

USA

AGE

SEX

OCCUPATION

CURRENT STATUS

45

Male

Computer Engineer

Active

NOTES

Designed b-money, a precursor to Bitcoin. Talented with cryptography, has a cypherpunk background and lives an intensely private lifestyle as described by the New York Times.

A main suspect is the computer engineer Wei Dai, the creator of the b-money system and the Crypto++ cryptographic library. Since the Bitcoin network was launched in 2009, a number of people have had suspicions that Wei Dai could have played the role of Nakamoto.

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CHECKLIST

Cypherpunk C++ Proficient British English


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// DECODING-SATOSHI-NAKAMOTO

Wei was a master of the C++ programming language, which is what Satoshi used to write the Bitcoin code.

One reason people think that Dai played the Nakamoto part, is because the talented cryptographer has the smarts to pull it off. Moreover, Dai created a C++ library for cryptographic functions called Crypto++ and he’s still a member of the academic and cypherpunk community. Dai is also a staunch supporter of privacy and the New York Times described the cryptographer as an ‘intensely private computer engineer.’ Wei’s career works begin when he was a programmer in TerraSciences, an Acton, Massachusetts company. At this company, Dai worked on the development of security solutions and the secure communication of control stations aimed at the oil and gas industry. Later, Dai was part of the Cryptography Research Group at Microsoft, located in Redmond, Washington. During his work at Microsoft, he participated in the study, design and implementation of encryption systems for specialized applications.

Wei Dai in 2004 coolwallet.io

Dai’s theories about anonymous electronic cash infrastructure can be found on the cypherpunks mailing list well before Bitcoin was released. The cryptographer also crafted an electronic money system called ‘b-money’ and it is the reason he is referenced in the Bitcoin white paper. In addition to his white paper reference, Dai and Nakamoto also exchanged a few emails in 2008, according to documents hosted on gwern.net. Dai was already a well-established character well before Satoshi allegedly emailed him in order to discuss peer to peer electronic cash concepts. In the 2008 emails, the two discuss Nick Szabo and Dai assumes that the conversations prove Szabo could not be Nakamoto. The emails between Nakamoto and Dai were originally published in March 2014’s Sunday Times editorial. Other than mere circumstances and coincidence, there’s really not a smoking gun pointing to Dai actually being Nakamoto and he’s never admitted it either. Theories of Dai being Nakamoto are also dismissed because Dai and Nakamoto engaged in email conversations and he’s referenced in the white paper, so he would have to be playing double agent roles. But that hasn’t stopped speculators in the crypto community who believe people like Hal Finney could have been Nakamoto too and played double roles.

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// WEI-DAI

Satoshi August 22nd 2008, 16:38:00 PM Private Emails

From: Satoshi <satoshi@anonymousspeech.com> Sent: Friday, August 22, 2008 4:38 PM To: Wei Dai <weidai@ibiblio.org> Subject: Citation of your b-money page I was very interested to read your b-money page. I’m getting ready to release a paper that expands on your ideas into a complete working system. Adam Back (hashcash.org) noticed the similarities and pointed me to your site. I need to find out the year of publication of your b-money page for the citation in my paper. It’ll look like: [1] W. Dai, “b-money,” http://www.weidai.com/ bmoney.txt, (2006?). You can download a pre-release draft at http://www.upload.ae/file/6157/ecash-pdf.html Feel free to forward it to anyone else you think would be interested.

Dai

Hi Satoshi. b-money was announced on the cypherpunks mailing list in 1998. Here’s the archived post: http://cypherpunks.venona.com/date/1998/11/ msg00941.html There are some discussions of it at http://cypherpunks.venona.com/date/1998/12/ msg00194.html. Thanks for letting me know about your paper. I’ll take a look at it and let you know if I have any comments or questions.

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// DECODING-SATOSHI-NAKAMOTO

FIRST NAME

SURNAME

NATIONALITY

RESIDENCE

Len

Sassaman

American

Belgium

AGE

SEX

OCCUPATION

CURRENT STATUS

-

Male

Computer Security

Deceased

NOTES

Regular in the cypherpunk community, expert in cryptograpy and computer security. Had the skills to create Bitcoin and also used British English, following academic standards.

Len was a true Cypherpunk, equal parts brilliant, irreverent, and idealistic. He devoted his life to defending personal freedoms through cryptography, working as a developer on PGP encryption and open-source privacy technology, as well as an academic cryptographer researching P2P networks under blockchain inventor David Chaum.

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CHECKLIST

Cypherpunk C++ Proficient British English


56


// DECODING-SATOSHI-NAKAMOTO

We’ve lost far too many hackers to suicide. What if Satoshi was one of them?

Embedded on every single node of the Bitcoin network is an obituary. Hacked into the transaction data, it’s a memorial to Len Sassaman, a man essentially immortalised in the blockchain itself. A fitting tribute in more ways than one. Len was a true Cypherpunk, equal parts brilliant, irreverent, and idealistic. He devoted his life to defending personal freedoms through cryptography, working as a developer on PGP encryption and open source privacy technology, as well as an academic cryptographer researching P2P networks under blockchain inventor David Chaum. He was also a pillar of the hacker community, a friend and influence to so many of the important figures in the history of infosec and cryptocurrency. Even in his youth, Len was a self-taught technologist who gravitated towards cryptography and protocol development. Despite living in small town Pennsylvania, by 18 Len was on the Internet Engineering Task Force responsible for the TCP/IP protocol underlying the internet and later the Bitcoin network. Always kind of the odd kid because he was smart, Len was diagnosed with depression as a teenager. Unfortunately, he suffered traumatic experiences at the hands of ‘borderline sadistic’ psychiatric practitioners, experiences which would presumably leave one distrustful of purported authority figures. In 1999, Len moved to the Bay Area and quickly became a regular in the Cypherpunk community. He moved in with Bram Cohen, creator of Mojo and Bittorrent, and was a contributor to the legendary Cypherpunk mailing list where Satoshi first announced Bitcoin. Other hackers remember him as intelligent and lighthearted, chasing down a squirrel at a Cypherpunk meeting and speeding around in a sports car with a ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ card in case he was pulled over. At 21, he made headlines for organizing protests against government surveillance, as well as the imprisonment of hacker Dmitri Skylarov.

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Early in his career, Len distinguished himself as an authority in public key cryptography, the foundation of Bitcoin. By 22, he was presenting at conferences and had founded a public key crypto startup with famous open source activist Bruce Perens. After the startup collapsed in the wake of the Dot-com Bubble, Len joined Network Associates to help develop PGP encryption central to Bitcoin. Working on the release of PGP7 in 2001, Len set up interop testing for OpenPGP implementations, putting him in touch with many important crypto pioneers. Len also contributed to the GNU Privacy Guard implementation of OpenPGP and worked with PGP inventor Phil Zimmerman to invent a new cryptographic protocol. When introducing Bitcoin, Satoshi said he hoped Bitcoin could be ‘the same thing for money’ that strong cryptography (i.e. PGP) was for securing files. At Network Associates, Len worked on PGP alongside Hal Finney. Len and Finney shared one very rare and relevant skillset: they both were developers of the remailer technology that was a precursor to Bitcoin. Proposed by David Chaum alongside cryptocurrency, remailers are specialized servers for sending information anonymously or pseudonymously. It was very common to use them when contributing to the Cypherpunk Mailing list, which itself was built on distributed remailers. After high school, Len worked to support his family and never had the chance to attend college. In spite of this, in 2004 he secured his ‘dream job’ as a researcher and Ph.D. candidate at COSIC, the Computer Security and Industrial Cryptography Research Group of K.U. Leuven in Belgium. Len’s Ph.D. advisor at COSIC was none other than ‘father of digital currency’ David Chaum. While Chaum laid the groundwork for the entire Cypherpunk movement and all cryptocurrencies, few could claim to have worked with him directly.


// LEN-SASSAMAN

---BEGIN TRIBUTE--#.BitLen ::::::::::::::::::: :::::::.::.::.:.::: :.: :.' ' ' ' ' : : :.:'' ,,xiW,"4x, '' : ,dWWWXXXXi,4WX, ' dWWWXXX7" `X, lWWWXX7 __ _ X :WWWXX7 ,xXX7' "^^X lWWWX7, _.+,, _.+., :WWW7,. `^"-" ,^-' WW",X: X, "7^^Xl. _(_x7' l ( :X: __ _ `. " XX ,xxWWWWX7 )X- "" 4X" .___. ,W X :Xi _,,_ WW X 4XiyXWWXd "" ,, 4XWWWWXX , R7X, "^447^ R, "4RXk, _, , TWk "4RXXi, X',x lTWk, "4RRR7' 4 XH :lWWWk, ^" `4 ::TTXWWi,_ Xll :.. =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= LEN "rabbi" SASSAMA 1980-2011 Len was our friend. A brilliant mind, a kind soul, and a devious schemer; husband to Meredith brother to Calvin, son to Jim and Dana Hartshorn, coauthor and cofounder and Shmoo and so much more. We dedicate this silly hack to Len, who would have found it absolutely hilarious. --Dan Kaminsky, Travis Goodspeed

P.S. My apologies, BitCoin people. He also would have LOL'd at BitCoin's new dependency upon ASCII BERNANKE :'::.:::::.:::.::.: : :.: ' ' ' ' : :': :.: _.__ '.: : _,^" "^x, : ' x7' `4, XX7 4XX XX XX Xl ,xxx, ,xxx,XX ( ' _,+o, | ,o+," 4 "-^' X "^-'" 7 l, ( )) ,X :Xx,_ ,xXXXxx,_,XX 4XXiX'-___-`XXXX' 4XXi,_ _iXX7' , `4XXXXXXXXX^ _, Xx, ""^^^XX7,xX W,"4WWx,_ _,XxWWX7' Xwi, "4WW7""4WW7',W TXXWw, ^7 Xk 47 ,WH :TXXXWw,_ "), ,wWT: ::TTXXWWW lXl WWT: ----END TRIBUTE----

A memorial to Sassaman has been permanently embedded into the Bitcoin blockchain.

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// DECODING-SATOSHI-NAKAMOTO

Assuming Satoshi lived a life outside Bitcoin, he did so during the working day when he was largely away from his computer at home.

Len worked at COSIC in Belgium until his death in 2011. In that time, he accumulated an impressive 45 publications and 20 conference committee positions. During Bitcoin’s development in 2008–2010, Len was increasingly active in financial cryptography. He joined The International Financial Cryptography Association and presented at the Financial Cryptography and Data conferences, where he also held a committee seat. Numerous clues suggest that Satoshi was working in academia during Bitcoin’s development, an idea embraced by Bitcoin Foundation founder Gavin Andersen. Satoshi’s code contributions and comments ramped up heavily during summer and winter break, but tapered off in late spring and the end of year, when an academic would have been taking and/ or grading finals. The idiosyncratic construction of Bitcoin’s code also suggests that Satoshi had an academic background. It has been described as ‘brilliant but sloppy’, eschewing conventional software development practices like unit testing but exhibiting cutting-edge security architecture and an expert understanding of academic cryptography and economics. Additionally, the Bitcoin whitepaper was released in a medium rarely seen on the Cypherpunk mailing list, a LaTeX formatted research paper with academic trappings such as an Abstract, Conclusion, and MLA citation. Compare this to other proposals like Bitgold and b-money which were unstructured blog posts. Since COSIC was based in Leuven, Len was living in Belgium during Bitcoin’s development. This is salient given that a number of facts suggest that Satoshi was based in Europe, the primary focus of an early inquiry by The New Yorker. Satoshi’s writing exhibits spelling and word choices idiosyncratic of British English such as ‘bloody difficult’, ‘flat’, ‘maths’, ‘grey’, as well as the dd/mm/yyyy date format. Strangely enough, Len used the very same British English as Satoshi even though he was American. However, Satoshi also refers to Euros rather than pounds. Bitcoin’s Genesis Block also included a headline from that day’s copy of The Times newspaper ‘The Times 03/

59

Jan/2009 Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks’. This headline was specific to the print version, which was only circulated in the UK and Europe. In 2009, The Times was a Top 10 newspaper in Belgium and ‘heavily used by scholars and researchers because of its widespread availability in libraries and its detailed index’. These clues leave us with a paradox: they suggest Satoshi was European, yet someone with the requisite skillset and exposure to Bitcoin’s primary influences would likely have been American. Much of the Cypherpunk community coalesced conferences and meetups, part of why a disproportionate number hailed from America and especially San Francisco. The jobs where one could have gained cutting-edge professional infosec and crypto experience were similarly concentrated in the US. Analysis of Satoshi’s posting history suggests they were a European ‘night owl’ who worked on Bitcoin after returning from a job or school during the day. At one point, Satoshi also stated that an increase in mining difficulty happened ‘yesterday’, which would not have been true if they lived in the US. When Len passed away in 2011, it represented a huge loss for the Cypherpunk and the tech community at large, a fact reflected in the huge outpouring of memories and sympathy that followed.


// LEN-SASSAMAN

Len at the W in San Francisco, February 2006 Simon Law

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// DECODING-SATOSHI-NAKAMOTO

FIRST NAME

SURNAME

NATIONALITY

RESIDENCE

Adam

Back

British

Malta

AGE

SEX

OCCUPATION

CURRENT STATUS

50

Male

Cryptographer

Active

NOTES

Proposed ‘Hashcash’ in 1997, an early version of the proof-of-work concept Bitcoin is based on. Back is also one of the only cypherpunks to not publish his emails with Satoshi.

CHECKLIST

Cypherpunk C++ Proficient British English

Adam Back is the CEO of Blockchain technology company Blockstream. He has been involved in the development of cryptocurrency since the 1990s, and his development of Hashcash later went on to power the mining part of the Bitcoin protocol. Despite his work being referenced in the Bitcoin whitepaper, Satoshi claimed to have not been aware of his paper. Adam Back claims to have talked on several occasions with Satoshi, but their conversations were never published.

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// DECODING-SATOSHI-NAKAMOTO

Adam Back took himself completely out of the public eye during the development of the Bitcoin project from 2009-2010.

It all started well before the Bitcoin white paper was published on Halloween 2008, as Adam Back described the technology on various occasions and as early as 1998. However, prior to the release of the cryptocurrency and white paper, Back seemingly removed himself from the public eye during the Satoshi’s development period between 2009 and 2010. A stark contrast from his previous activity, Back published zero academic papers or patents, and went silent on the mailing lists he was a frequent member of. Coincidently after Satoshi left, Back appeared on the bitcointalk.org forum acting as though he’s been around for quite some time. There is also a number of other forms of circumstantial evidence that point to Back possibly being the creator of cryptocurrency. For years, during the early days, many people assumed that Back ignored Bitcoin for a while, and then joined the community with great fervor toward the technology. Back’s first posts and replies to other bitcoiners on the bitcointalk.org forum shows his technical understanding of the blockchain was more advanced than most. It’s also been highlighted that when Back joined the community after Satoshi left, he was bossing people around like he had always been around. Back in 1997, Adam proposed a ‘partial hash collision based postage scheme’ which aimed to use cryptography to limit email spam. What Adam described later went on to be labelled as Proof of Work, the key consensus algorithm behind Bitcoin dictating how blocks are mined on the network. Adam was one of the world’s first Cypherpunks talking about the possibility of a cryptocurrency over the course of 10 years before the development of Bitcoin. He openly criticised his own and others’ work and discussed the changes needed to resolve any anonymity, scalability, and transparency issues in developing a decentralised digital currency on the Cypherpunk forums.

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The earliest form of publicly available communication from Satoshi was his email to Wei Dai in 2008, where he asked for a date to reference. In this email Satoshi mentions he was pointed to Dai’s b-money paper by Adam Back, however these emails have never been proven to exist. Another strange coincidence is that Satoshi supposedly sent the first release of Bitcoin to Back, but he claims that he shrugged it off without mining a single coin. This raises suspicions: a proficient cryptographer and cypherpunk, who had invented an underlying concept behind Bitcoin and pursued electronic cash for much of his career, simply didn’t bother opening a project that solved issues he had planned to address for the past decade? In 2012, Back began updating the Bitcoin Wikipedia articles, providing in-depth insight to the history of the project. What’s worth noting is that Adam only became involved with the Bitcoin project and forums during April 2013, entering with the presence of a well-established character. Two days after joining the forum, Back references an obscure mining bug fix in one of his posts, although it was never mentioned in the notes of the 2010 change log it was part of. Speculators could point to this as evidence that Back was involved with the Bitcoin project far earlier than he claims, if he is not Satoshi himself.


// ADAM-BACK

adam3us April 18th 2013, 11:27:49 AM BitcoinTalk Forum

I consulted for Nokia on ecash crypto back in 2002. I worked at Zero-Knowledge Systems from 2000-2003. So anyway I know a few things about ecash, privacy tech, crypto, distributed systems (my comp sci PhD is in distributed systems) and I guess I was one of the moderately early people to read about and try to comprehend the p2p crypto cleverness that is bitcoin. In fact I believe it was me who got Wei Dai’s b-money reference added to Satoshi’s bitcoin paper when he emailed me about hashcash back in 2008. If like Hal Finney I’d actually tried to run the miner back then, I may too be sitting on some genesis/bootstrap era coins. Alas I own not a single bitcoin which is kind of ironic as the actual bitcoin mining is basically my hashcash invention.

Back is a strong proponent of Bitcoin, believing that excessive money printing and volatile property investments will lead the cryptocurrency to an eventual price of $300,000. Back became CEO of Blockstream in 2016, a blockchain technology company he co-founded two years before. Blockstream aims to further the development of Bitcoin and has recieved over $100 million in investments, although Adam Back has never committed a single line of code. This raises questions about how investors could rely on him as a qualified individual with suggestions that non disclosure agreements were involved.

Back has denied allegations that he is Bitcoin’s creator, although he mines Bitcoin, only Bitcoins, personally, and he keeps what he mines. ‘I don’t sell them’ he said. One reason is, Back believes Bitcoin will go to $300,000 within five years, without any additional adoption by institutional investors. Retail investors, who’ve carried the torch for the last 10-plus years, since Bitcoin’s debut, will continue to show support as institutions remain cautious, he said.

Both Satoshi and Back used British-English rather than American English. Their writing style was also extremely similar, using double spaces throughout their messages and using British spellings. As previously mentioned, the message hidden in Bitcoin’s genesis block featured a headline from The Times newspaper, based in the UK. Almost everyone who has been linked to Satoshi has American origins apart from Adam.

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// DECODING-SATOSHI-NAKAMOTO

I DON’T SELL THEM 65


// ADAM BACK

Back met with Dorian Nakamoto at the 2019 Bitcoin conference. Twitter

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// DECODING-SATOSHI-NAKAMOTO

FIRST NAME

SURNAME

NATIONALITY

RESIDENCE

Shinichi

Mochizuki

Japanese

Kyoto

AGE

SEX

OCCUPATION

CURRENT STATUS

52

Male

Mathematician

Active

NOTES

A Japanese mathematician famous for releasing his work without claiming recognition. Writes in British English despite his native language being Japanese.

A lesser known, yet uniquely compelling candidate for the real Satoshi Nakamoto is Japanese mathematician and number theorist Shinichi Mochizuki. With a long history of mathematical innovation, and purportedly proving conjectures thought to be near impossible to verify, he seems to almost come from an alien world. Mochizuki further painstakingly avoids the spotlight. Some, like American computer scientist and co-inventor of hypertext, Ted Nelson, go so far as to call him Satoshi.

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CHECKLIST

Cypherpunk C++ Proficient British English


68


// DECODING-SATOSHI-NAKAMOTO

He did not send his work to the Annals of Mathematics. Nor did he leave a message on any of the online forums frequented by mathematicians around the world.

Child of an international marriage, Mochizuki moved with his family from Japan to the United States at age five, and would go on to graduate Philips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire at age 16. From there it was Princeton University for a bachelor’s degree and Ph.D in mathematics, lecturing at Harvard for two years, and then a return to Japan in 1994. Mochizuki is currently a full professor at Japan’s prestigious Kyoto University. In spite of impressive accomplishments and accolades such as proving Grothendieck’s conjecture on anabelian geometry in 1996, and being invited to speak at the International Congress of Mathematicians, nothing would cause such a stir as his alleged proof of the ABC Conjecture in 2012. The conjecture is described as a ‘beguilingly simple number theory problem that had stumped mathematicians for decades.’ What maths experts found in reviewing the proof, however, was that they couldn’t even understand it, and Mochizuki couldn’t be bothered to explain. Much like Bitcoin had been carefully dropped off as an alien creation on obscure corners of the internet at its inception, Mochizuki had dropped off a supposed bombshell in the field of mathematics and stepped back. He had even created his own terminology over a decade of isolated research which other mathematicians couldn’t parse despite their attempts.

Right: Mochizuki in 2000 Tokushima University

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Critics of Satoshi theories placing a Japanese as Nakamoto often cite Satoshi’s impeccable command of the English language and grammar in correspondence, and the cleanliness of his writing style. As a native speaker, this would have been a non-issue for Princeton salutatorian Mochizuki. Also frequently cited is Satoshi’s use of typically British English expressions and spellings such as ‘bloody’ and ‘colour.’ Interestingly, Mochizuki’s mentor and doctoral advisor from Princeton, Gerd Faltings, is a German national. The two would have presumably communicated in English at Princeton in an academic setting, and the English formally taught in Germany is typically British English. Mochizuki would have also undoubtedly been exposed to the British usages at his prestigious boarding school, Philips Exeter Academy. The inventor of hypertext, computer scientist and philosopher Ted Nelson feverishly rushed to produce an entertaining and insightful video on Mochizuki in 2013 after reading an article about him and deciding that Shinichi Mochizuki was indeed ‘the one.’


// SHINICHI-MOCHIZUKI

Mochizuki’s work has cracked some of the simplest and toughest problems in his field, attracting global media coverage.

Japanese culture is quiet, reserved, and hardworking, generally speaking. Humility and politeness go hand in hand with and an almost painful aversion to being the centre of attention. In Japan it is viewed as graceful and appropriate to do one’s work quietly, complete the task, and not make much of a fuss about it. This can be very different from the general Western individualist ethos, which often calls for flashy attention or a prize in the face of groundbreaking accomplishment. On a linguistic aside, the name Shinichi means ‘new one’ in Japanese, and interestingly shares a syllable count with Satoshi. The surnames line up syllabically as well, but this could be nothing more than mere coincidence.

The most obvious argument against Shinichi Mochizuki being Satoshi Nakamoto is a glaring lack of known background in computers, coding, and cypherpunk ethos and knowledge. It’s hard to imagine though, that a scholar of his calibre in the field of mathematics would not have at least some working familiarity with these fields. Critics have pulled no punches in attempting to put the Mochizuki as Satoshi theory into the cultural paper shredder, even leveraging insult to do so. Still, like the other candidates, Mochizuki merits examination on a variety of counts, and further adds to the mystery of the hunt for Bitcoin’s pseudonymous creator.

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// DECODING-SATOSHI-NAKAMOTO

FIRST NAME

SURNAME

NATIONALITY

RESIDENCE

Craig

Steven Wright

Australian

London

AGE

SEX

OCCUPATION

CURRENT STATUS

50

Male

Businessman

Active

NOTES

Wright has claimed that he his Satoshi. Many experts have contested the evidence provided by Wright despite his success in convincing two well-respected Bitcoiners.

Craig Wright is an Australian computer scientist who claims to be Satoshi Nakamoto. According to Wright, he was involved in Bitcoin’s creation along with his friend, the deceased computer security expert Dave Kleiman. He made this claim after Wired magazine and Gizmodo floated the possibility of his being Nakamoto in a December 2015 article. The article quoted from numerous sources, including Wright’s email correspondence and chat transcripts with acquaintances, and referenced business dealings to make its case.

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CHECKLIST

Cypherpunk C++ Proficient British English


72


// DECODING-SATOSHI-NAKAMOTO

Wright has long been adamant about his position as the creator of Bitcoin. Much to a skeptical crypto ecosystem’s irritation, he has done everything except prove he was Satoshi Nakamoto.

Craig Steven Wright, born and raised in Brisbane, Australia, is a computer scientist that rose to prominence after claiming that he invented Bitcoin. Wright has said that he used this identity to develop Bitcoin while enlisting the help of Dave Kleiman, now deceased, and celebrated cypherpunk Hal Finney. The origin of Craig Wright’s assertion dates back to 2015 when Wired published an investigative article, indicating that Craig Wright could very well be Satoshi Nakamoto. These claims were based on a trail of blogs and leaked emails. Less than a day later, Wired updated its article and wrote that they ‘identified inconsistencies in the evidence supporting the notion that Craig Wright is Satoshi Nakamoto.’

Craig Wright is a notable critic of Bitcoin’s block size limit, playing a vital role in mobilizing the 2017 Bitcoin Cash hard fork that pushed for gradual increments to Bitcoin’s block size limit. Just over a year after the fork, the Bitcoin Cash community clashed heads over technicalities, leading to a split. Another fork was inevitable. Once again, Wright was a driving force in the resulting fork, leading to the creation of Bitcoin Satoshi’s Vision (BSV). Although the network has drawn the ire of the Bitcoin community, Bitcoin SV has seen reasonable success in achieving its scalability objectives. The primary reason the crypto community looks down on Bitcoin SV is due to the latter’s insistence that BSV is the ‘real Bitcoin.’

In the presence of Gavin Andresen, the first maintainer of Bitcoin’s codebase, Craig Wright reportedly produced a cryptographic signature for the address Satoshi used to mine Bitcoin’s genesis block. This event led Andresen to publicly declare that he believed Wright was indeed Satoshi. But Patrick McKenzie, an early Bitcoin developer, quickly exposed the gimmick, proving Wright’s cryptographic signature had actually signed a different block than he was claiming to have. Andresen lost his credibility with the broader Bitcoin community, but he admitted that it was a mistake. Albacore, a cryptocurrency startup, launched an online tool that allows anyone to mimic Wright’s deceptive tactic. This was the final nail in the coffin for Wright’s public key sham.

In 2021, Wright won the right to serve a copyright infringement lawsuit against the operator and publisher of bitcoin.org, the website that operates as one of the earliest code documentation platforms for the cryptocurrency’s creation. Wright argues that as the main creator of bitcoin, copyright ownership over Nakamoto’s original white paper belongs to him. Cease and desist letters were sent far and wide by Wright’s lawyers to stop the paper being hosted on several platforms earlier this year, which prompted bitcoin proponents such as Square Crypto, Facebook crypto subsidiary Novi and others to upload the document in a show of solidarity.

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// CRAIG-WRIGHT

Australian Federal Police officers searched the home of Craig Steven Wright in Sydney's North Shore, December 9, 2015. The New Yorker

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// DECODING-SATOSHI-NAKAMOTO

Craig Wright May 5th 2016, 15:47:56 PM CraightWright.net

I’m Sorry I believed that I could do this. I believed that I could put the years of anonymity and hiding behind me. But, as the events of this week unfolded and I prepared to publish the proof of access to the earliest keys, I broke. I do not have the courage. I cannot. When the rumors began, my qualifications and character were attacked. When those allegations were proven false, new allegations have already begun. I know now that I am not strong enough for this. I know that this weakness will cause great damage to those that have supported me, and particularly to Jon Matonis and Gavin Andresen. I can only hope that their honour and credibility is not irreparably tainted by my actions. They were not deceived, but I know that the world will never believe that now. I can only say I’m sorry. And goodbye.

Right: Craig Wright in an interview for GQ. Financial Times

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// CRAIG-WRIGHT

The latest in a series of opportunistic lawsuits commenced by Wright over the years designed to force the world to acknowledge his claim to the identity and legacy of Satoshi Nakamoto. Craig Wright is also embroiled in a legal battle with Ira Kleiman, the brother of Dave Kleiman, who is suing Wright for 550,000 BTC, half of Satoshi’s 1.1 million BTC treasury chest, as his deceased brother is entangled in Wright’s Satoshi assertions. After several rounds of testimony during the lawsuit, Judge Beth Bloom of the Southern District of Florida finally ruled that Wright’s testimonies weren’t credible. Wright’s defense in court for not being able to move his alleged BTC stash is that the coins are escrowed in a trust, whose private key will be delivered to him on Jan. 1, 2020 through a bonded courier. In January 2020, Wright revealed to the court that the bonded courier had arrived, but Kleiman’s lawyers said it’s just a list of 16,000+ addresses. Interestingly, one of the addresses listed belongs to a mysterious 50 BTC that recently moved after nearly ten years.

Wright denied that these coins belonged to him despite speculation that the assets are directly connected to Satoshi Nakamoto. The nature of the Kleiman case has also revealed the questionable honesty of Wright. He has been accused throughout the case of lying to the court, delaying the case, submitting forged documents, and ultimately rendering the entire debacle incredibly expensive. Still, there is no definitive answer as to whether Wright is Satoshi Nakamoto or not. All the evidence provided thus far by Wright and his bastion of loyal followers have been dismissed due to the aforementioned inconsistencies and contradictions.

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// DECODING-SATOSHI-NAKAMOTO

FIRST NAME

SURNAME

NATIONALITY

RESIDENCE

Dave

Kleiman

American

Florida

AGE

SEX

OCCUPATION

CURRENT STATUS

-

Male

Computer Forensics

Deceased

NOTES

Craig Wright has claimed that he worked in collaboration with Kleiman to create Bitoin, and is currently wrapped up in a court case with the passed computer forensics expert.

Dave Kleiman was a noted Forensic Computer Investigator, an author of multiple books and a noted speaker at security related events. He died in his home in April 2013 of complications from MRSA. Kleiman was a regular contributor to a wide array of online forums and mailing lists where he assisted network engineers and other IT professionals of varying levels in solving their issues, regardless of the level of difficulty involved. He was also well known as an advisor to engineering professionals in numerous industries.

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CHECKLIST

Cypherpunk C++ Proficient British English


78


// DECODING-SATOSHI-NAKAMOTO

Cocaine, benzos, booze and a bullet hole. The mysterious, tragic death of the man Craig Wright says helped him create Bitcoin.

Possible Bitcoin pioneer Dave Kleiman had been using cocaine, pills, and alcohol before he died, according to a Palm Beach medical examiner. There was also a bullet hole in his mattress. A close friend and one-time partner of Wright, Kleiman has been called a brilliant computer forensics specialist. He has also been called a co-creator of Bitcoin by Wright, and would have been capable of the technical side of building Bitcoin.

In a recent court filing Wright suggested Kleiman’s brother Ira bought a $400,000 house with bitcoins found on Kleiman’s computer after his death. Ira Kleiman is suing Wright for half of the 1.1 million bitcoins the pair would have mined if, as Wright claims, he and Dave Kleiman were the brains behind the first cryptocurrency.

According to a toxicology report, Dave Kleiman had used the tranquilizers including benzodiazepine (a class that The circumstances of Kleiman’s death are mysterious, includes Xanax, Ativan, and Valium) and nordiazepam, as tragic, and ugly. He died alone and in poverty sometime well as remnants of cocaine, in the days before his death. before April 27, 2013, when his body was discovered by a The autopsy reported a blood alcohol level slightly above friend. Kleiman died of a heart attack at age 46. The inves- .10%, legally drunk. Investigators also found a fully loaded tigators who found his body several days later described gun. Someone had recently fired another gun into the a filthy house. They found open bottles of alcohol and bed’s mattress, but no shell casings from that weapon bloody feces tracked around the house. Kleiman had been were recovered. confined to a wheelchair since a 1995 motorcycle accident, and had been hospitalized frequently before his death. That leaves a lot of mysteries. A June 2016 article in He had recently checked himself out of a free Veterans The London Review of Books, ‘The Satoshi Affair,’ says Administration hospital, against the advice of doctors. that unnamed sources close to Kleiman claimed he was Much of the end of his life was spent in a free VA hospital. a drug user and online gambling addict. It adds, ‘there is evidence he was associated with Silk Road, the online Kleiman’s death is at the heart of the $10 billion Bitcoin marketplace for all things illegal.’ The article also alleges lawsuit involving Craig Wright. Dave Kleiman’s half that before he came out publicly as Satoshi Nakamoto, brother and heir, Ira Kleiman, told the court Dave should Wright was visited in Australia by Ross Ulbricht, founder have had around 320,000 bitcoin, then worth more than of the Silk Road dark web marketplace. Still, cocaine is $40 million, when he died. Yet, his house was in foreclo- a surprising thing to find in the blood of a middle-aged sure and he had been refused a tiny payday loan days cybersecurity expert and former Palm Beach County before he died. Sheriff’s deputy.

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// DAVE-KLEIMAN

Dave Kleiman was an Army veteran, a paraplegic, and a computing wizard occasionally consulted by national TV networks for his expertise in computer forensics and security. Dr. Wright’s supporters initially predicted a swift result in his favor, saying Ira Kleiman had little evidence to support his claims. Mediation was set to happen on June 18, 2019. However new allegations, disputes over the integrity of testimony and documentary evidence, limited understanding of Bitcoin’s intricate workings, and Dr. Wright’s own access to vital information, have seen the case drag on for years. The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have also played a part, limiting court time. The jury trial and ultimate outcome has been delayed multiple times, and in November 2020 it was scheduled to begin in June 2021.

Even if the case does manage to arrive at a decision in mid-2021, it’s unlikely to satisfy everyone. It’s also unlikely to result in definitive proof of Dr. Wright’s and Dave Kleiman’s role in Bitcoin’s creation, and who has the right to benefit from it. This case may eventually conclude and take its place in Bitcoin folklore, but the overall Bitcoin saga will continue for a long time to come.

This legal process has been long and convoluted, with reports and commentary often tainted by their makers’ support for either the Kleiman or Wright side. The court has at times struggled to grasp important Bitcoin concepts, and even seasoned Bitcoin veterans must admit large gaps in their own knowledge of Bitcoin’s origins and early history.

Kleiman served in the US army and was a police officer before a motorbike accident in 1995. Patrick Paige

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// DECODING-SATOSHI-NAKAMOTO

FIRST NAME

SURNAME

NATIONALITY

RESIDENCE

Paul

Calder Le Roux

Zimbabwe

Manila

AGE

SEX

OCCUPATION

CURRENT STATUS

48

Male

Programmer

Incarcerated

NOTES

Le Roux is a programmer currently incarcerated by the US government. Documents in the Kleiman v Wright suit unearthed theories that the cartel boss had access to Wright’s hard drives.

Paul went on to become a cryptographic programmer who built a global drug and arms dealing empire and transformed himself into one of the most prolific criminal cartel bosses. U.S. law enforcement arrested Le Roux on September 26, 2012 for narcotics charges, ordering the assassination of at least seven people, and operating a criminal cartel, which circumstantially makes him a prime suspect.

81

CHECKLIST

Cypherpunk C++ Proficient British English


82


// DECODING-SATOSHI-NAKAMOTO

It has now been suggested that Paul Le Roux may be Satoshi Nakamoto, and that Craig Wright is in possession of encrypted hard drives containing Le Roux’s multibillion-dollar stash of bitcoins.

Paul Le Roux is a former cartel boss, DEA informant, and software programmer who resides in jail after he was arrested for various crimes in 2012. There are a number of reasons why people believe Le Roux may have created Bitcoin and the first circumstantial evidence appeared during the Kleiman v Wright lawsuit. During the discovery period in the lawsuit, Craig Wright filed a motion for a protective order and the filing had a significant number of redactions. However, there was one unredacted footnote in Wright’s filing called ‘Document 187,’ which was the URL to Paul Le Roux’s Wikipedia page. As soon as this unredacted footnote was made public it went viral on cryptocurrency forums and social media platforms like Twitter. People began to suggest that Le Roux was possibly Bitcoin’s creator and somehow Wright obtained access to the criminal’s hard drives. Then after the Kleiman v. Wright lawsuit redaction leak, an anonymous individual posted a screenshot of Le Roux’s Congo Republic ID card. The card’s description notes Le Roux calls himself ‘Paul Solotshi Calder Le Roux.’

Paul le Roux as a teenager in Krugersdorp, South Africa. Evan Ratcliffe

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Individuals also suggested that Le Roux being a former software engineer shows he had the technical expertise to create the cryptocurrency. He was an autodidact coder, fluent in a range of languages but particularly in C++, the language of bitcoin’s software. Le Roux was knowledgeable in both encryption and networking, with a wide-ranging intelligence that enabled him to develop expertise across an extraordinary number of domains, albeit many of them illegal. Most relevant to Satoshi was Le Roux’s experience building and disseminating his own software, that in many ways paralleled bitcoin. In the late 1990s, while working programming jobs by day, he spent nights and weekends coding a complex piece of disk encryption software called Encryption for the Masses, or E4M. In 1999, he announced E4M on a cryptography mailing list, launched a web site to release the open source code, and began patiently answering technical questions and taking suggestions.


// PAUL-LE-ROUX

Le Roux had been famous among a community of hackers and privacy geeks as the author of an important piece of encryption software. A more famous successor to E4M called TrueCrypt, which Le Roux has never been directly tied to, but which several of my sources believe he was likely involved in, surfaced in the same manner. The creation of bitcoin mirrored this approach. Satoshi appears to have worked on the project for years before emerging out of the ether to announce it on the Cryptography mailing list in October 2008, with his now famous white paper. He then released the software on an accompanying web site, bitcoin.org, and spent years patiently answering technical questions and taking suggestions. At the heart of his criminal organization was the online pharmacy network RX Limited, which generated hundreds of millions of euros in revenue annually from the illegal sale of prescription painkillers. The huge demand for painkillers during the opioid crisis in the US made le Roux a millionaire in the mid 2000s.

But he quickly turned to even more profitable businesses: From his headquarters in the Philippines, he smuggled methamphetamine out of North Korea, shipped tons of cocaine to Australia, set up arms deals in Indonesia, and laundered his millions in gold from Ghana and the Democratic Republic of Congo. But that’s not all: Le Roux also offered Iran a missile guidance system for sale through a middleman. In Somalia he wanted to enter the tuna, arms and drug business on a large scale. He even built his own village for this purpose, and maintained a militia of more than 200 men to protect the operation. Although the project was eventually abandoned, it earned him a mention in a UN Security Council report.

Le Roux’s Republic of Congo ID Card surfaced, showing he previously went by the name ‘Solotshi’. The New York Times

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// PAUL-LE-ROUX

Crystal meth, weapons smuggling, contract killings and an attempted coup. For Paul Le Roux, no crime went too far.

In court, le Roux confessed to participating in several contract murders, including one of his own contract killers. There are plenty of other unverified stories about le Roux that sound even more far-fetched. According to statements by former employees and business partners, he is said to have been involved in plans to smuggle gold belonging to former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi to South Africa, and is even rumoured to have planned a coup in the Seychelles with a troop of international mercenaries. The DEA tracked Le Roux for years. By 2008 and 2009, they started to get a pretty good picture of his online prescription pill network. The problem was the way he had constructed it, including building his own email servers and his own domain name registrar. It shielded him from the authorities developing the kind of evidence that they could use to actually prosecute him. He was also bribing authorities in the Philippines and Brazil to protect himself. The DEA had a person who had been inside of Le Roux’s organization who they recruited to return with a fake deal, a big methamphetamine-for-cocaine deal to take place in Liberia. Le Roux by this time was very into expanding his empire and connecting with Colombian cartels and shipping drugs all over the Pacific. He essentially fell for the ruse, ending up in Liberia for a meeting with a supposed Colombian drug dealer, where they arrested him and then quickly brought him back to United States.

Le Roux pleaded guilty to being involved with RX Limited in January 2014. In December 2014, he pleaded guilty to trafficking methamphetamine into the US, selling technology to Iran, ordering or participating in seven murders, as well as fraud and bribery. In March 2016 it was revealed that US authorities had taken unspecified steps to protect Le Roux’s family. On 12 June 2020, Le Roux was sentenced to 25 years in prison. Upon his release, Le Roux is expected to be deported to the Philippines to stand trial for the murders committed in the Philippines, as well as in relation to an arms shipment intercepted by the government in 2009. In a surprise plot twist in 2020, Paul Le Roux told the Manhattan Federal Judge, Ronnie Abrams, he was going to ‘start a business selling and hosting bitcoin miners.’ Le Roux said in great detail that he created a custom application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) with ‘special optimizations.’ There is some circumstantial evidence that Le Roux could be Satoshi Nakamoto but the evidence is quite weak. There’s really no smoking guns that suggest Le Roux is Bitcoin’s creator except for the possibility of technical expertise and the coincidental disappearance timeframe. In addition, the circumstantial evidence and speculation stemming from the Kleiman v Wright lawsuit, which is loaded with discrepancies too. So far, no one has been able to substantially connect Paul Le Roux with Satoshi Nakamoto and clues lead to a number of dead ends.

Le Roux was apprehended in the Philippines after a DEA sting operation. Vice

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DENIED ALL UNCONFIRMED AND CIRCU EVIDENCE LE INCONCLUSIVE SATOSHI N


LEGATIONS, ED THEORIES UMSTANTIAL LEADS TO AN E SEARCH FOR NAKAMOTO



// THE-SEARCH-CONTINUES

THE SEARCH CONTINUES Assuming Bitcoin’s creator is alive, Satoshi could be on track to becoming the richest human being on the planet. But there’s one more fascinating twist. Because the Bitcoin blockchain is open, it’s possible for researchers to plausibly identify much of the bitcoin Satoshi mined in the early days of his invention. After the very beginning, when Satoshi sent a few bitcoin to early testers like Finney, Satoshi’s coins seem to have never been sent or spent or capitalized on in any way. Over more than a decade, as the Bitcoin inventor’s holdings have grown to be worth potentially tens of billions of dollars, the share of money Satoshi quite literally made has sat untouched, a vast cache of so-called ‘lost coins’ that could be in circulation but aren’t. So who is Satoshi? One of the prime suspects? One of the many other people that have been identified as Bitcoin’s creator over the years? Someone nobody has ever suspected? Is Satoshi alive or dead? A single inventor or a team? As the years have passed it seems increasingly likely that we’ll never know the answers.

A reoccurring clue used in the investigation of Satoshi is their use of British English and writing traits such as the use of double spacing. Natural language processing tools were applied to the Bitcoin whitepaper to compare it to numerous cryptocurrency related papers in an attempt to uncover the identity of Nakamoto. The results from the study suggested which author/authors in the corpus are linguistically and semantically similar to Satoshi Nakamoto. Based on the results, Satoshi who had written the Bitcoin paper may not be the same Satoshi who had exchanged emails. They may possibly be more than one person. Nick Szabo and Ian Grigg are the two authors who are linguistically similar to Satoshi Nakamoto in the Bitcoin paper and his email texts, respectively. In addition, Wei Dai and Timothy C. May are two potential candidates for the Bitcoin paper in terms of semantic similarity. Hal Finney and Ian Grigg are two possible candidates for Satoshi’s email exchanges.

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LOST COINS ONLY MAKE EVERYONE ELSE’S COINS WORTH SLIGHTLY MORE 91


// THE-SEARCH-CONTINUES

Unquestionably, efforts to uncover the identity of Satoshi Nakamoto will continue. The threat he poses to the cryptocurrency market is too great and the mystery surrounding his identity is too compelling. In a world where anonymity is increasingly difficult to pursue, Satoshi Nakamoto has succeeded beyond imagination in keeping his secrets. What we’re left with is Satoshi’s trillion-dollar creation, a small cache of communications, and maybe one final gift. ‘Lost coins only make everyone else's coins worth slightly more,’ Satoshi wrote, in response to a thread about users losing access to their wallets: ‘Think of it as a donation to everyone.’

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Satoshi Nakamoto, the so called father of Bitcoin, appeared out of the ether in 2008 and disappeared just as abruptly three years later, after establishing the world’s first cryptocurrency. On April 23, 2011, he sent a farewell email to a fellow Bitcoin developer. ‘I’ve moved on to other things,’ he wrote, assuring that the future of Bitcoin was in good hands. He has not been heard from since. Today, Bitcoin is valued at more than $1 trillion, and while Nakamoto’s identity might be simply a matter of speculation for some, it means far more to others: He is said to own over 1 million Bitcoins with a current value hovering somewhere around $60 billion.