Who is Satoshi Nakamoto? Theories.

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The creator of Bitcoin Satoshi Nakamoto is shrouded in mystery: nobody knows who hides behind the pseudonym. There are dozens of theories, from plausible to outlandish and even mystical. We’lll go over some of them and try to lift the veil.

First mentions of Satoshi Nakamoto and Bitcoin

Satoshi Nakamoto is the pseudonym of the person (or group of people) who created the first-ever Bitcoin cryptocurrency. On October 31, 2008, a user nicknamed "Satoshi Nakamoto" published the article "Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System" on a mailing list for cypher punks. This article is the famous Bitcoin white paper.

This article was part of The Cryptography Mailing List and was the first description of a decentralized digital currency system. It described a decentralized settlement system that did not require the intermediation of a third party, such as a bank. And just two months later, in January 2009, a genesis block of bitcoin was mined. Also in 2009, Nakamoto released the first version of an electronic wallet and launched the bitcoin network.

Satoshi Nakamoto was motivated to create the first cryptocurrency by the idea of solving the basic problems of the existing financial system, in particular the policy of depreciation of fiat currencies by central banks.

In developing the Bitcoin protocol and accessing the Internet, the author used the anonymous Tor browser and other means to protect his data.

What is known about Satoshi Nakamoto?

Satoshi Nakamoto's activities have been closely linked to the community of cypher punks, whose ideology has always been based on the importance of privacy and data protection. Torrents, VPNs, and electronic signatures are all ideas that, in one way or another, were brought to life through the efforts of the cypher punks community. Cryptocurrencies were no exception - before bitcoin, there were many attempts to create a decentralized settlement system. But it was Satoshi Nakamoto who was the first to propose a working model.

Anonymous himself indicated in his profile on the P2P Foundation website that he was born in 1975 and lived in Japan, but this information has been repeatedly questioned. At the very least, many signs indicate that Satoshi Nakamoto worked and corresponded from London. For example, Satoshi always posted all of his messages during working hours, which corresponded to the London time zone.

When analyzing Satoshi's activity time on the Bitcoin forum, 500 posts were analyzed, and Swiss programmer Stephan Thomas concluded that the bitcoin creator seldom posts between 5:00 and 11:00 GMT. When converted to Japanese time, it turns out that Satoshi slept from 2:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Nakamoto left the first clues - intentionally or unintentionally - on his own. Hidden in the initial transaction of the very first block of the system is a secret message. On the face of it, there is nothing unusual, it is just part of the headline in The Times on January 03, 2009: "Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks".

Except that the Times is a British newspaper and the article is about British affairs. This led to the theory that Satoshi was British or from the former colonies. Circumstantial evidence has also been found in posts signed by the pseudonym, e.g, in the source code of the Bitcoin network or publications. Satoshi also used distinctive British English phrases such as bloody hard and referred to his apartment as "flat" instead of "apartment".

The bitcoin white paper was also written in perfect English and was never translated into Japanese.

The name Satoshi Nakamoto has also been questioned, which experts believe may have a hidden meaning. In Japanese, the word "Satoshi" means "Wise" or "Clear-thinking. The word "Naka" can be translated as "Inside," and "Moto" as "Base, base.

At the same time, if we decompose the name into hieroglyphs, together the words "Naka" and "moto" can be interpreted as "In the book. In any case, it turns out to be something like "thinking of the core" or "wisdom in a book" (in a bitcoin white paper?).

There is also controversy about Satoshi's supposed date of birth. According to one of the versions, Satoshi chose the date of April 5, 1975, for a reason, and in fact, it is a reference to significant events in the history of the financial system.

It was on April 5, 1933, that U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt signed an executive order prohibiting Americans from storing and holding gold. Americans were able to regain this right only in 1975.

Perhaps in this way, Satoshi wanted to emphasize the imperfection of today's financial system and at the same time show the world what role he attributes to bitcoin in the future. We can say that this fact turned out to be prophetic - today many people call the first cryptocurrency "the second gold".

Nakamoto has been compared to the American inventor and founding father of the United States, Benjamin Franklin, who also published under a pseudonym. However, it can't be ruled out that Satoshi was just trying to cover his tracks in this way.

But who is Satoshi Nakamoto? Who is behind probably the most significant technology of the 21st century? Let's find out.

Hal Finney

One of the most plausible theories about the real creator of Bitcoin is California-based programmer and cryptography expert Harold Thomas Finney II (Hal Finney). He was one of the originators of bitcoin and updated its code together with Satoshi. Moreover, the first online transaction of 50 BTC in 2009 came to his address. Hal Finney also developed the first proof-of-work system, back in 2004, that is, before the bitcoin article was published, which became the basis for many cryptocurrencies, including bitcoin. He was also one of the early crypto-enthusiasts, who were called "cypher punks."

It is known that Harold Thomas was fond of encryption and communicated with Satoshi Nakamoto in the first days after the launch of the project. However, his identity, according to Finney, remained a mystery to the programmer. He managed to mine a few BTC at an early stage. Hal Finney also owns the first tweet about bitcoin:

Running bitcoin — halfin (@halfin) January 11, 2009

Finney is almost a perfect candidate for the role of Nakamoto. However, the programmer himself denied any connection with the creation of the first cryptocurrency when asked by Forbes journalist Andy Greenberg in 2014. He was led on the trail by stylistic analysis of the programmer's writing style, which was conducted by specialists from Juola & Associates. His style was as similar as possible to the language of Nakamoto's posts.

Unfortunately, Hal Finney passed away in 2014, so we'll never get any details from him.

Another argument in favor of the theory appeared after Finney's death. In 1993 the programmer published a communication in which he described the NFT concept almost perfectly. He proposed the creation of unique digital collectible cards, created using cryptography, which could be exchanged. Afterward, Bloomberg's top analyst Eric Balchunas wrote, "Of course, I'm no expert on the subject, but from everything I've seen or read, Hal = Satoshi."

Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto

The theory that Finney was the creator of Bitcoin was further supported by the fact that a man whose real name was Satoshi Nakamoto lived next door to Finney. Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto. This incredible coincidence gave rise to two main theories: either Finney used his neighbor's name when he created the pseudonym, or Dorian was the same Satoshi.

Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto is a Japanese-American. Dorian's brother, Arthur Nakamoto, in a conversation with Newsweek reporter Leah Goodman, described him as a superb physicist, a very smart and very focused person, and also a rare bastard. "He worked on secret projects; For a while, his life was empty; You can't get through to him; He will deny everything; He will never admit that he created bitcoin" the physicist's brother added.

One possible argument for the theory that Dorian is the creator of bitcoin is the physicist's life story. He graduated from California Polytechnic Institute, worked on secret Defense Department projects, and also worked with information companies in the field of finance.

Dorian himself, when Goodman arrived at his house, called the police. Officers arrived on the scene and allowed the journalist to ask Dorian questions. Then the physicist, according to Goodman himself, "tacitly acknowledged his role in the project. In response to a question, he said he was no longer involved with bitcoin.

Already after the publication of the article Dorian wrote an official statement in which he denied any connection with the first cryptocurrency:

"My name is Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto. I became the hero of a Newsweek article about bitcoin. I am writing this statement to clear my name. I did not create or invent bitcoin or work on it. I unequivocally deny the Newsweek report."

Returning to the argument about the real bitcoin author's waking time, it is worth noting that Satoshi Nakamoto's presumed sleep according to California time lasted from 10:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m.

Nick Szabo

Nick Szabo is an American cryptographer who, back in 1998, created the first digital currency concept, calling it Bit Gold. Unfortunately, in those years, the ancestor of Bitcoin failed to gain popularity due to many technical limitations.

Szabo himself has always denied any involvement in the creation of bitcoin. In a conversation with the author of the book "Bitcoin: The Future of Money?" Dominic Frisbie, the programmer said that he had nothing to do with Satoshi Nakamoto.

Interesting fact: One of Ethereum's small fractional units is called “szabo”, after Nick Szabo. It is 0.000001 (one millionth) of ETH.

Craig Steven Wright

In 2015, another candidate emerged. Wired magazine published an article in which Australian Craig Steven Wright declared himself the creator of bitcoin.

Australian entrepreneur Craig Wright often finds himself at the center of various scandals, and legal proceedings, suspected of illegal activities, and one of his offices was once even searched. Not surprisingly, most crypto-enthusiasts doubt his connection to Satoshi. In addition, Craig has provided fake evidence that he is the creator of bitcoin, which was taken from public data.

In 2016, Wright provided digital signatures of crypto-keys that were supposed to prove his authorship. He claimed the signatures related to the first bitcoin transaction. However, the data proved inconclusive - anyone could have reproduced the signatures using publicly available data. Wright provided copies of earlier digital signatures, not a new signature using the old keys. Wright flatly refused to provide any additional information and then removed all bitcoin entries from his blog altogether.

He initially referred to himself as the creator of bitcoin in conversations with the media and provided dubious evidence, but in 2019, Wright registered the rights to a white paper and the first version of the bitcoin network.

On the other hand, Gavin Andresen, a public confidant of the real Satoshi Nakamoto and Bitcoin Foundation spokesman, claims that Craig Wright did provide some tangible evidence in his favor in a personal meeting. It would certainly have been possible to find this out with money transfers from the wallets of the real Satoshi Nakamoto. It would have been enough to transfer BTC for literally a few dollars, which would have confirmed Craig Wright's private keys. But he is in no hurry to transfer them.

Elon Musk

The author of this theory is Sahil Gupta, a former employee of SpaceX and Tesla. According to the programmer, in 2017 he communicated with the businessman's representative Sam Teller, who advised him to start his own company. At the end of the phone call, the developer asked Teller if Musk was the creator of bitcoin. Teller was quiet for 15 seconds, then said, "Well, what can I say. Gupta also posted a screenshot of a correspondence in which he arranged a call with Teller.

To prove his point, Gupta cited Musk's extensive experience: the billionaire was behind the PayPal payment service. In addition, Musk also founded the IT company Zip2, which means he has development experience.

It is also worth adding that the billionaire was born and raised in South Africa, which was once a British colony. How often he uses (and whether at all) in his spoken words and expressions characteristic of British English is unknown.

Sahil believes that the billionaire has all the necessary knowledge and resources to claim the role of the creator of the first cryptocurrency. However, this version is one of the most doubtful, if only because Elon Musk personally denied this information and put forward his assumption about the most likely candidate - Nick Szabo.

Popular blogger Lex Friedman, during his interview with Musk, also asked if he was Satoshi. But he received a negative answer.

Vitalik Buterin

Lex Friedman asked Vitalik Buterin, the founder of Ethereum, whether he was Nakamoto, even before he talked to Musk. And too received a negative answer..

Sergey Nazarov

In addition, Nazarov, the founder of the Chainlink CrytoProject, visited Lex for an interview and got this question from him as well. And the answer was also "No".

However, there are some interesting facts about Nazarov:

1. Sergey Nazarov bought the domain smartcontract.com 6 days before Satoshi's first bitcoin publication. Recall that a smart contract is software code that is executed on the blockchain network, which means that Nazarov already knew at least something about blockchain.

The domain smartcontract.com now leads to Nazarov's Chainlink project, a decentralized network of blockchain oracles.

On October 31, 2008, a document describing Bitcoin appeared:

On October 25, 2008, Nazarov registered the domain smartcontract.com

2. In June 2020, financial journalist Mikhail Kapilkov discovered that the first version of bitcoin (v0.1.0) contained a Russian proxy.

3. Satoshi Nakamoto and Sergey Nazarov have the same initials in English:

Sergey Nazarov (SN) = Satoshi Nakamoto (SN)

Secret organizations

It is no secret that there are closed, anonymous associations on the Internet. And one of the main distinguishing features of a classic cryptocurrency like bitcoin is network anonymity.

Unfortunately, not many secret organizations are known. But we do know something about one of them.

Cicada 3301

Cicada 3301 is one of the most mysterious organizations on the Internet. It first made contact in 2012. "Cicada" left a message on the website 4chan, which stated that the secret association was looking for people with high intelligence and offered everyone to solve a series of puzzles with extremely complex data encryption elements.

All the puzzles were related to cryptography, and only a few were able to solve them. And only a few told about the solutions they found, allowing them to move on to the next level. From a potential applicant were required: high training in programming, extremely high knowledge of cryptography, and high intellectual abilities.

One of the applicants, Marcus Wanner, was able to contact Cicada and found out that their main goal is to develop a completely anonymous online communication application. It is not known if Cicada and other similar organizations are related to the development of bitcoin, but the very concept of cryptocurrencies as an anonymous decentralized money, beyond the control of banks and states, has much in common with the ideas of Cicada 3301.

Paul de Rue

One of the most controversial candidates for the role of Satoshi Nakamoto is the programmer and part-time head of a crime syndicate Paul de Rue. The fact is that since 2012 de Rue has been in custody for importing banned substances and weapons into the United States. Moreover, it is suspected that he may be involved in a series of murders.

There are indeed many interesting coincidences in Paul de Rue's biography:

1. He is a talented programmer, well versed in C++, the language in which bitcoin was written.

2. Around the time of de Rue's imprisonment, the real Satoshi Nakamoto stopped communicating, and his BTC is unmoving, in a frozen state. Also in 1999, Paul wrote a data encryption program called E4M. And then he published open-source code and an article with a technical description of the program, which is stylistically very similar to Satoshi's article on bitcoin.

3. Paul de Rue's fake passport used the name Solotshi, even before Satoshi came online. Given his occupation, cryptocurrency would be a useful tool for de Rue to escape unnecessary government control. This also explains his desire to remain anonymous without claiming to be Satoshi.

All of these are just some of the versions in an attempt to unravel the mysterious identity of Satoshi Nakamoto. There has also been speculation about the involvement of several individuals in the creation of Bitcoin, including Finnish economist Willy Lehdonvirt, Irish crypto specialist Michael Clear, Neil King, Charles Bry, Vladimir Oxman, and Japanese mathematician Shinichi Mochizuki. All of them denied any involvement in the creation of the first cryptocurrency.

More exotic versions say that American authorities or even programmer and drug dealer Paul de Rue are behind the pseudonym. There is another funny assumption that says that the pseudonym Satoshi was chosen by a group of researchers in a consortium of four companies: SAmsung, TOSHIba, NAKAmichi, and MOTOrola. But so far no one has been able to prove or disprove this theory.

Why did Satoshi Nakamoto disappear?

From his earliest days, Satoshi placed great emphasis on anonymity. He always went online only through the secure Tor browser and carefully concealed his identity. While others wondered if Satoshi might be crazy, watched his sleep phases, and even suspected him of having ties to the Yakuza, Satoshi continued to work on the bitcoin source code with other crypto-enthusiasts.

Discussing existing bitcoin problems and solutions in the chat room, Satoshi remained an authority for everyone for a long time, and any bugs and flaws in the network were always solved only with his participation. Over time, however, Satoshi's policies and actions concerning bitcoin became increasingly subject to criticism.

This eventually led to him removing his name from the bitcoin copyright statement, updating the Bitcoin.org website, and adding contacts of other active developers.

Satoshi Nakamoto last appeared online on April 26, 2011. That day he wrote a short letter to one of his associates, Gavin Andresen (the creator of the first bitcoin crane), in which he gave him a copy of the cryptographic key for the bitcoin security alert system and wrote a few words about his vision for the further development of the network.

Conclusion

Satoshi Nakamoto is one of the most enigmatic figures of the 21st century. No one knows his real name for sure. By the mid-2010s, he stopped participating in the development of cryptocurrency and has not appeared anywhere since then. It is difficult to say unequivocally how many bitcoins Satoshi Nakamoto has - according to estimates, his wallet has more than a million BTC, which is almost 5% of the entire issue.

Whoever Satoshi Nakamoto was, in his work he demonstrated how digital currencies can challenge centralized finance and showed the world a whole new system of interaction, so his pseudonym will forever remain in history.

And despite numerous attempts to expose the creator of bitcoin, perhaps this is exactly the case where the cryptocurrency world has benefited from such secrecy. After all, the main thing Satoshi Nakamoto wanted to achieve was full independence of financial instruments. And the breach of anonymity could be one of bitcoin's main vulnerabilities.

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