Michael Goetzman

Who is Satoshi Nakamoto?

Last Update: 09-03-2014

Bitcoin is a revolutionary cypher-currency created from the works of ECDSA invented by late Scott Vanstone, SHA-256 with an unknown inventor but thought to be the NSA, Justin Frankel, Gianluca Rubinacci and Tom Pepper: co-inventors of the first decentralized Peer-to-Peer file sharing network, and Adam Back: Inventor of the first Proof-of-Work system, which he later helped conceptually code into Bitcoin. Digital currency has always been the holy grail of the cypherpunk movement. Bruce Schneier  has a section about it in his 1996 book Applied Cryptography (Section 6.4). In the early 90’s, Liberty, Security, and Privacy were common motivations of the pre-bitcoin era with known and 3 or 4 unknown experts in the field. One good reference for this cyberpunk era is a paper called Cyphernomicon by Timothy C. May.

This leads to the article’s topic Bitcoin’s creator, Satoshi Nakamoto, a pseudonym of an unnamed person who on November 1st, 2008 came out of ‘nowhere’ with a  Newsgroup /Gmane  post with interesting Q/A’s. Satoshi Nakamoto used a pseudonym from the start and went to great lengths from the very beginning to conceal his identity.  This quiet newsgroup post announces the release of a paper called “Bitcoin – A peer-to-peer Electronic Cash System” which would become the foundation for what is now known as the bitcoin protocol. Satoshi was active on the Bitcoin forum , you can see his user and his posts from 2008-2011, during which he created what is now known as the genesis block from bitcoin protocol v0.1 gave bitcoin v0.1 to the public on January 9th, 2009. He started advancing the code immediately afterwards,  adding TOR support posted under the email satoshin@gmx.com to the advancing client and completed other notable developments until Bitcoin v0.3.19 and gone by April 2011 when Nakamoto announced he has moved onto other things and has since stopped replying to queries altogether.

I’ve been following Bitcoin since around the price of 50 cents. Satoshi wasn’t the only one to create bitcoins, but his mysteriousness sets him apart from the rest. He built bitcoin on the thinking of Adam Back, Wei Dai, Ian Grigg, Nick Szabo, Ian Goldberg, David Chaum, Stefan Brands, Steve Schear, John Gilmore, Ryan Lackey, Ben Laurie, Jim McCoy, Bram Cohen, Paul Kocher, Zooko, Adam Shostack, Len Sassaman and many more including Ulf Moeller (who we sadly lost to a senseless murder). He could be one of these people but there is a huge community of cryptographers who put in the time and thinking into building bitcoin. Since the very beginning, like others, I’ve always wondered “Who is this Satoshi Nakamoto?” and “Why doesn’t he want any recognition?”  He also apparently doesn’t wish to be rich as he has not moved any of his estimated fortune of around 1M Bitcoins or he hopes to remain private even over the chance of these great riches!! Ultimately, My reasoning for investigating who Satoshi really is, is to learn more about the community and protocol itself. Note: If I do find proof of Satoshi Nakamoto – I wouldn’t share that knowledge publicly as I respect his contributions and anonymity requests. 

Clues about Nakamoto:

  • Designed the original Bitcoin protocol in 2008 and launched the network in 2009.
  • Nakamoto means ‘central origin’, while Satoshi means ‘clear thinking, quick witted, wise’
  • Simply does not see money as the primary motivation in life
  • British English spelling in both source code comments and forum postings work implies Nakamoto, or at least one individual in the consortium claiming to be him, may be of Commonwealth origin. One of his postings used the Anglicism “Bloody hard”. Bloody is an expletive attributive that is commonly used in Great Britain, Ireland, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, and by those who speak Indian English. However, it is seldom heard in North America outside of Newfoundland and Labrador.
  • Stefan Thomas, a Swiss coder and active community member, graphed the time stamps for each of Nakamoto’s bitcoin forum posts (more than 500); the resulting chart showed a steep decline to almost no posts between the hours of 5 am and 11 am Greenwich Mean Time. Because this pattern held true even on Saturdays and Sundays, it suggested that Nakamoto was asleep at this time. If Nakamoto is a single individual with conventional sleeping habits, it suggests he resided in a region using the UTC−05:00 or UTC−06:00 time offset. This includes the parts of North America that fall within the Eastern Time Zone and Central Time Zone, as well as parts of Central America, the Caribbean and South America.

Top 10 Suspects:

1. Adam Back

  • Initial interests in PGP, usenet broadcast, & anonymous re-mailers. Ran an anonymous relay for awhile.
  • Worked for Zero-Knowledge Systems , precursor to tor  – read more at a 1999 article on wired.
  • Main reason for working on bitcoin, was to decentralize through encryption.
  • Highly Interested in technical details of freedom/human rights – democratic society/privacy/anti-surveillance
  • Adam’s published paper hashcash (2002) was cited in satoshi’s paper regarding proof of work in bitcoin.
  • Not a fan of altcoins, “bitcoins was a one off event”
  • Sources

 2. Nick Szabo

 3. Shinichi Mochizuki

  • Japanese mathematician and Kyoto University lecturer
  • Mathematical Genius specializing in number theory
  • Based in Japan
  • Grew up in the US, so fluent in written English
  • He is known to release discoveries publicly over the internet and not through academic channels

 4. Martti Malmi

  • Computer Scientist, said to be the co-founder of bitcoin, now working on Identifi.
  • Based in Finland(where the bit coin website was first registered), writes flawless English, studied Japanese.
  • Was removed from the list of project developers around the same time Nakamoto disappeared.
  • “discovered” Nakamoto’s white paper at a very early stage,  created user interface, and is an early developer on the bit coin project
  • “…set up the project web site and forums, ported the Windows-only client to Linux and added some UI features.”
  • interested in libertarian thought
  • Source: http://sc5.io/blog/2013/02/sc5er-intro-the-bitcoin-guy/

 5. Vili Lehdonvirta

  • Economic Sociologist, used to be a video game programmer
  • Understands in game currencies and has a lot of documented research.
  • Based in Finland.

 6. Wei Dai

 7. Michael Clear

  • Top Computer Science student at Trinity College, Dublin – making him a UK based candidate
  • The New Yorker newspaperdid some research into Nakamoto, and decided it was most likely to be Clear

 8. Crypto Mano Group

  • Consists of Donal O’Mahony, Hitesh Tewari, Michael Peirce and previously mentioned, Michael Clear
  • An Ireland group of Computer Scientists, all with connections to Trinity College, Dublin
  • Published a book entitled ‘Electronic Payment Systems of E-Commerce’ in 2009, and numerous other papers on Computer Science

 9. Neal King, Vladimir Oksman & Charles Bry

  • A group of UK Computer Scientists that have traveled to Finland
  • Released  patent US 20100042841 A1 “Updating and Distributing Encryption Keys”  using very similar wording to Nakamoto’s original Bitcoin paper, 72 hours after the Bitcoin domain name was established, and all three have filed other patents in similar areas
  • Those who were in email contact with Nakamoto before he disappeared said that his replies were infrequent, almost as if a group of people were checking the email only intermittently

10. Government (CIA/KGB)

  • heavily used to transport money to organizations such as wikileaks

Who is not Satoshi: Dorian Nakamoto

  • The witchhunt of Dorian Satoshi by Newsweek’s Leah McGrath was published with no real evidence. The article had no logical substance but hearsay. This is consistent of the shoddy rhetoric journalism that has been produced since the popularity of the internet.

Interesting Satoshi Quotes:

Though Satoshi’s comments focussed almost exclusively on development coding, some are some economic discussions that did happen:

You can read other notable satoshi quotes.

Summary: Satoshi Nakamoto could be almost anyone around the crypto circles. Perhaps a genius not even listed above!  Here are the only facts: 1: It is someone extremely knowledgeable  in cryptography. This is very rare because most crypto implementations get a wee bit complex. 2: It is someone who is clued with regards to the financial sector and understands the genius behind stable currency. (1 coal to 1 coin) 3: It is someone who can code, code well, and distribute things out anonymously. (he added TOR early, and nobody knows who he is to this day. Knows a variety of other programming languages extremely well. After these three major facts, it could be anyone narrowed down into a few select online communities, I imagine he wants anonymity so the story to be about Bitcoin and not about the creator! Suspicions could be on anyone – He is sometimes referred to as “the bilabial bitcoin Father” or a part of the “bitcoin Trinity: Jesus”. With the clues we have, timelines, and facts we most likely can narrow it down to a few possible Satoshis… Who do you think Satoshi is?

~Michael Goetzman

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