If you buy Bitcoin, you may wonder where it—and cryptocurrency in general—comes from. After all, only a little more than a decade ago, cryptocurrency didn’t exist. The answer to that question is Satoshi Nakamoto, whose open-source code led to the creation of Blockchain, the Bitcoin white paper, and the currency we use and love. But who is Satoshi Nakamoto? That’s a mystery that’s been chased by reporters and members of the crypto community for almost as long as the currency has existed. The pseudonymous person who invented Bitcoin is supposedly a 44-year-old Japanese man—at least according to the internet. But no one knows who Nakamoto really is, or if he’s even just one person. For all we know, Nakamoto could be our grandmother. Still, the man, woman, or group who is responsible for digital currency as we know it is sitting on quite a chunk of Bitcoin themselves—an estimated 1 million BTC, worth 10 billion USD by today’s rate.
Portrait of Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto (Not the inventor of Bitcoin)
While discovering who invented Bitcoin should satisfy our curiosity, when you add sums such as that one to the equation, it’s no wonder everyone is curious to know who is Satoshi Nakamoto. Over the years there has been both speculation, often dismissed by the people who were pointed at, and also claims, often dismissed by the crypto community. At Coinmama, we don’t know the answer to the question, but like everyone else, we love to speculate! We’re taking a look at what we supposedly know about Satoshi, and at 5 people who may or may not be him.
Who is Satoshi Nakamoto? Probably not this guy.
Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto. Poor Dorian! Satoshi Nakamoto is most often visually depicted as Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto, a 69-year-old retired California engineer who has vehemently denied being the Satoshi Nakamoto, and who says he hadn’t even heard of Bitcoin until his son told him about it in 2014. So how did he become the subject of great speculation and the de facto face of Satoshi, despite being twenty years older than the BTC inventor? Well, the name for starters. When someone’s middle and last name match up, it’s hard not to make assumptions. But despite his engineering background, we think it’s safe to let this Nakamoto spend his retirement in peace. He was so upset by the media attention, even threatening to take legal action against Newsweek, the publication that broke the story, that we’d hope if he really were Satoshi, he’d have done a better job coming up with a fake name.
Did this guy buy Bitcoin, or invent it?
Craig Wright. Last week we took a brief look at the lawsuit Craig Wright is currently embroiled in. Wright, who is associated with the altcoin Bitcoin SV, the #9 cryptocurrency by market cap, insists that he’s Satoshi Nakamoto. He’s even gone so far as to file a copyright claim on the Bitcoin white paper and early code. Few people seem to believe his claim, and he’s unfortunately in a bit of a lose-lose situation on that front. The claim has landed him in court, where the estate of his former business partner, Dave Kleiman, wants a piece of the action, saying Wright and Kleiman developed the cryptocurrency together. If he’s unable to prove he really is Satoshi, as he says he is, then he’s just a crazy old kook. But if he can prove he is who he says he is, Kleiman’s estate could take a sizeable chunk of that 1 million BTC Satoshi supposedly has. We’re really not sure which sounds like the better (or worse) deal for Wright, but we do know that Wright really wants to be Satoshi, and really wants everyone else to believe him too.
3 People who deny being the person who invented Bitcoin (but very well may be)
Gavin Andresen. Andresen was one of the early developers of BTC, and has been involved in the cryptocurrency since 2010 and quickly became the public face of Bitcoin. (Unlike Dorian Nakamoto, who was thrown into the spotlight with little to do with crypto, Andresen was the intentional face behind the project.) But what puts him on the list is that Satoshi just handed over the Bitcoin reins to Andresen and disappeared. You’d think the person who took over the project would know the man or woman behind it, so maybe the fact that Andresen has weighed in as saying Nakamoto really is Craig Wright gives Wright more credit than we give him. Of course, maybe that’s just a red herring to throw us off Andresen’s trail. Whatever the truth is, we wouldn’t be totally shocked if Andresen and Nakamoto were one and the same.
Nick Szabo. The blockchain isn’t just about cryptocurrency and how to buy Bitcoin. Nick Szabo is known for his development of smart contracts, an integral part of the widespread use of blockchain. Perhaps even more importantly, Szabo developed a digital currency prior to the invention of BTC called Bit Gold, meaning he’s very familiar with how digital currency, cryptography, and the blockchain work. He’s probably been the biggest subject of widespread speculation among reporters as being Satoshi Nakamoto—something he’s always denied. And unlike other people who have been tagged as Nakamoto, most reporters and speculators have a hard time coming up with evidence that Szabo isn’t the person who invented Bitcoin. As a result, he remains at the top of most Satoshi lists.
Hal Finney. Hal Finney, who passed away in 2014, denied being Satoshi Nakamoto, but he certainly didn’t deny knowing about cryptocurrency in its early days. Way back before you could buy Bitcoin online, Finney was notable for being the very first Bitcoin recipient, meaning even if he wasn’t Satoshi sending BTC to himself, he definitely knew him. In a curious coincidence—or a very real piece of evidence—for a while, Finney lived in the same town as Dorian Nakamoto, so it’s not unlikely he heard his name and adopted it as the patriarch of crypto. Finney had ALS, which ultimately caused him to pass away in 2014, and which could explain why Satoshi’s million BTC have been untouched all this time. Though he was an active crypto advocate and very involved in similar endeavors, if Finney was actually Satoshi Nakamoto, he took his secret with him to the grave.
Recently, John McAfee (you know him as the antivirus guy) has made it his mission to uncover the truth, pointing to the Bitcoin whitepaper as the key evidence to examine. He says using authorship forensics on the paper, we can compare it to the writing of people who are supposed to be Satoshi, and see the differences and similarities. It’s not a bad idea—if it works. But the truth is that the mystery of who invented Bitcoin may never be solved, especially if that person is Hal Finney or someone else who is no longer alive. And until the truth is uncovered, we think it’s safe to say people will continue to come out of the woodwork, claiming to be Satoshi, or claiming to know who he is. And it will be interesting to see if the 1 million BTC in Satoshi’s wallet ever moves. We hope he didn’t lose his private keys.