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Who Started Bitcoin? The True Story of Satoshi Nakamoto

Omar A.
GUIDES

This guide is a deep dive into Satoshi Nakamoto, the pseudonymous creator of the flagship cryptocurrency Bitcoin (BTC). In particular, we will discuss Bitcoin’s early history, who Satoshi is and some of their accomplishments within the cryptocurrency space. Additionally, we will consider the possible identities of Satoshi, including some people who have declared themselves to be the creators of the blockchain and others who are thought to be the ones.


What is Bitcoin?

So far, Bitcoin stands tall as the largest cryptocurrency by popularity and market capitalization. However, with its growing popularity, price and utility come along with interest in this new technology’s birth.


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Who is Satoshi Nakamoto and what do we know (so far)?

The name is widely believed to be a pseudonym that they used to hide their true identity. Expectedly, several people have attempted to uncover this secret, and 10+ years down the line since the launch of Bitcoin, they have not been able to.

Budapest, Hungary – 12.30.2021 Daylight portrait of the statue of Satoshi Nakamoto, the mysterious founder of Bitcoin and Blockchain technology; Statue created by Reka Gergely and Tamas Gilly.

Even though we don’t know the true identity of Satoshi, we do have the following bits and pieces about this mysterious figure that created Bitcoin:

  • Satoshi Nakamoto originated in Japan, and according to his P2P Foundation profile, he is from the East Asian country.
Satoshi Nakamoto’s profile on P2P Foundation

Other than his (possible) origin narrative, there is no further evidence to suggest that Satoshi was ever based in or corresponded from Japan;

  • Another crucial piece of information found on Satoshi’s P2P Foundation profile is their age and gender, which, as of 2022, is 47 years and male. This means that if the information is true of the Bitcoin founder, he was aged in his early 30s when he created the flagship blockchain network;
  • There is reason to believe that only one person is behind the entity Satoshi Nakamoto because a look back through email correspondences and chat histories on the P2P Foundation as well as the BitcoinTalk forums shows them making a first-person reference. Satoshi uses phrases such as “I will,” “I’ve been working,” “I think”, and “I am not Dorian Nakamoto,” among similar others.

It is widely believed that the name ‘Satoshi Nakamoto’ is a pseudonym, and if that’s the case, the facts outlined in this section can be taken with a grain of salt as they represent fabricated information that the entity behind the name chose to share. More like convenient background information to either mislead any future sleuths looking to uncover Satoshi’s true identity or to make, as yet, an undiscovered point.

Satoshi Nakamoto’s Notable Accomplishments

Satoshi Nakamoto only surfaced in 2008 when he launched the Bitcoin whitepaper and vanished in 2011 once he felt that the network had grown in strength enough to survive without his input. We, therefore, have about 3-4 years of history about this mysterious entity and limited accomplishments that they might have achieved within this period.

Despite the short time span that Satoshi was in existence, he made some significant contributions towards the betterment of the human race, and these are:

Created the Bitcoin network

Satoshi announced his decentralized network proposal in 2008 to a cryptography mailing list titled “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System.” His proposal involved a solution to the age-old ‘double-spending’ problem, which saw the birth of the Bitcoin network.

It is worth noting that Satoshi used a previously discovered technique called Proof of Work (PoW) in Bitcoin mining that was invented by Cynthia Dwork and Moni Naor and shared in a 1993 journal. PoW was created as a security mechanism to deter denial-of-service attacks.

Satoshi found a way to include it in his Bitcoin proposal to ensure that it was difficult for nefarious actors to attack the network.

To prevent the double spending problem, Satoshi implemented a redundancy strategy whereby all nodes in the network would hold a copy of the true version of the Bitcoin ledger. Anyone could join the network and operate a Bitcoin node, thereby verifying transactions and maintaining a full copy of the ledger.

This first successful implementation of the blockchain concept has been the underlying concept for all subsequent blockchain networks launched since 2009.

Created the first successful digital currency

With the launch of the Bitcoin network, Satoshi also launched the network’s native digital asset, also called bitcoin (with lowercase ‘b’ to differentiate the asset from the network.) Bitcoin (asset) is considered the flagship cryptocurrency and the largest digital currency by market popularity and capitalization.

The purpose of bitcoin was to serve as a value transfer asset in the same way that fiat currency works. It could be used to buy goods and services as a store of value and as a speculative asset. The only difference between bitcoin and other conventional currencies is that with the former, no government agency was responsible for its issuance and management.

Single largest (individual) holder of bitcoins

Satoshi is believed to be the single largest holder of bitcoins that he mined during the formative years of Bitcoin. Blockchain sleuths have determined that he holds in excess of 1 million coins in various crypto wallets that have been associated with the mysterious creator.

Satoshi Nakamoto’s Net Worth

If this claim is true, he could be one of the richest people in the world, with Satoshi Nakamoto’s net worth reportedly reaching a whopping $16 billion, and he is en route to becoming the richest as the price of bitcoin rises.

Created BitcoinTalk forum

BitcoinTalk is a Bitcoin-dedicated forum for community members to interact, correspond, discuss, inform and collaborate on all matters related to the premier blockchain. Satoshi created it in 2009, the same year that he launched Bitcoin.

The forum has grown to become the world’s biggest blockchain-related forum. It serves as a great introduction for beginners to the cryptocurrency space as well as experts and other enthusiasts to find other like-minded people with which to interact.

People Thought to Be Satoshi Nakamoto

Satoshi’s true identity and nationality is as of yet unknown, but this hasn’t stopped some journalists and blockchain enthusiasts from speculating about this subject. Over the last decade, there have been several individuals suggested based on various research methodologies and theories.

Below, we have highlighted four of the most notable individuals that have been thought to be Satoshi for one reason or another. These are:

Hal Finney

Hal Finney. Source: Offizieller Kirchenjesus YouTube.

Hal Finney was a computer scientist, coder, bitcoin pioneer, and cryptography enthusiast who happened to be a member of the mailing list to which Satoshi first announced his plans to launch Bitcoin. Finney was the first to subscribe to the idea and the first to download the Bitcoin software for testing and bug reporting.

Additionally, Finney became the first person to receive a bitcoin transaction from Satoshi himself, an amount of 50 BTC ‘which he later admitted to having forgotten to refund.

The claim that Finney might just be Satoshi himself came from Forbes journalist Andy Greenberg who, in a March 2014 article, reported that his search for Satoshi had led him to a “paralyzed crypto genius.” According to Greenberg, Finney used the pseudonym Satoshi to hide his true identity.

The journalist discovered that Finney lived a few blocks away from an American Japanese named ‘Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto’ that might have served as an inspiration for his choice of a pseudonym. Additionally, Greenberg took the effort of collecting samples of Finney’s original writings together with Satoshi’s to a writing analysis consultancy service that showed a close resemblance.

However, Finney disapproved of Greenberg’s theory by revealing personal email correspondences he shared with Satoshi as they collaborated during the early days of Bitcoin. Other investigative journalists also concurred with Finney’s account.

Finney died of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, in August 2014 at 58.


Dorian Nakamoto

Source: CBS Mornings YouTube.

Dorian is a Japanese American man who was living in California in 2014 when he shot into the limelight for allegedly being the creator of Bitcoin. Sadly he was confirmed to be a circumstantial victim of overzealous journalism.

His alleged involvement in the creation of Bitcoin was peddled by Newsweek journalist Leah McGrath Goodman who wrote the March 6th, 2014 article titled “The Face Behind Bitcoin.”

According to Miss Goodman, there were several clues that confirmed her conclusion that Dorian was indeed Satoshi, the Bitcoin inventor. First was the fact that his name included the Bitcoin creator’s name. Secondly, he lived a few blocks away from Hal Finney, with whom Satoshi collaborated in Bitcoin’s formative years to launch the network.

Thirdly, according to Miss Goodman, Dorian’s profession seemed to fit the bill. He was a trained physicist who previously worked as a systems engineer on classified defence projects and as a computer engineer across several companies. Dorian also exhibited libertarian tendencies following his layoff from government twice in the early ‘90s.

According to Goodman, the confirmation of Dorian’s involvement in the creation of Bitcoin came in a statement he allegedly made in which he said that “I am no longer involved in that, and I cannot discuss it. It’s been turned over to other people. They are in charge of it now. I no longer have any connection.” Dorian denied this claim saying that it was picked out of context and he was making a reference to his other professional engagements and not Bitcoin.

The matter was conclusively laid to rest when Satoshi Nakamoto himself posted on the P2P Foundation, stating, “I am not Dorian Nakamoto.”


Nick Szabo

Nick Szabo. Source: Swiss Re YouTube.

Szabo is perhaps the person with the closest similarity to the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto. An early Cypherpunk with a libertarian mindset; the person behind the idea of smart contracts that have now been adopted into highly successful dApp platforms such as Ethereum (ETH).

Szabo is a computer programmer and cryptographer who also came up with the idea of creating digital money called Bit Gold considered a close predecessor to Bitcoin. He suggested, more or less, the same concepts that finally made their way into the Bitcoin implementation. Unfortunately, Bit Gold never saw the light of day.

Nathaniel Popper, the author of ‘Digital Gold’ and a journalist for the New York Times, wrote an article for the publication in May 2015 in which he posited that “the most convincing evidence [on Satoshis’s true identity] pointed to a reclusive American man of Hungarian descent named Nick Szabo.”

There is further evidence alluding to the possibility that Szabo is indeed Satoshi, such as the similarity between their writing styles. However, Szabo has vehemently maintained that he is not Satoshi. In an email correspondence with Mr Popper, he is quoted as writing: “As I’ve stated many times before, all this speculation is flattering, but wrong — I am not Satoshi.”

There has not been any further evidence provided so far to suggest a correlation between Szabo and Satoshi.


Craig Wright

Craig Wright. Source: BBC News YouTube.

Unlike the previous three individuals who were thought to be Satoshi Nakamoto but denied it, Craig Wright has publicly claimed to be the creator of Bitcoin and the author of the Bitcoin whitepaper. He even took a bold step to file for U.S. copyright over the whitepaper and the original Bitcoin source code in 2019, which incidentally was awarded to him.

However, it is worth noting that copyrights can be filed by anyone with enough proof to claim them over any material they wish to lay claim. It does not necessarily confirm that Wright was the actual author of the whitepaper and Bitcoin code.

Craig Wright is an Australian computer scientist and businessman who has proven to be a controversial figure over the last few years since his declaration of having created Bitcoin. He has been faced with ridicule and scorn from several individuals within the blockchain space, including influential personalities such as Ethereum co-creator Vitalik Buterin and British journalist Peter McCormack.

Wright has been in and out of courtrooms trying to prove his claims and deter his critics but has been at pains to conclusively show that he is indeed Satoshi Nakamoto. An obvious way to do that would be to prove ownership of Satoshi’s Bitcoin wallets by signing a transaction from any of the known wallets.

Alternatively, they could claim ownership of the Satoshi account within the P2P Foundation or even the Bitcoin creator’s email addresses used during the network’s formative years. This has proven hard for Wright to do.

Final thoughts

It is hard to imagine someone as influential as Satoshi Nakamoto can successfully evade doxing from some of the world’s leading internet sleuths, but that is what this mysterious figure has done for the last 10+ years. It does not seem like anyone will be able to identify the person or persons behind the pseudonym.

Or maybe it is for the best, according to the creator himself; it is not important to know who invented Bitcoin as long as it achieves the intended purpose. Bitcoin has not only revolutionized the way we think about money, but it has also sparked the rise of a whole new industry of digital assets and infrastructure.

Disclaimer: The content on this site should not be considered investment advice. Investing is speculative. When investing, your capital is at risk.

Frequently Asked Questions on Satoshi Nakamoto

Who is Satoshi Nakamoto?

Satoshi Nakamoto is the pseudonymous individual who authored the Bitcoin blockchain whitepaper in 2008 and also launched the network in January 2009. Satoshi is also the entity behind the popular BitcoinTalk forum where blockchain enthusiasts interact, collaborate and discuss matters pertaining to the new decentralized world. Satoshi vanished from the public in 2011 after successfully launching Bitcoin.

How much is Satoshi Nakamoto worth?

The true Satoshi Nakamoto net worth is unconfirmed, it is not known exactly how many bitcoins Satoshi has due to the nature of the blockchain space. It is almost impossible to prove the association between a wallet and its owner unless the owner voluntarily lays claim, which Satoshi has not. However, some internet sleuths have made rough estimates claiming that Satoshi holds at least 1 million bitcoins which are currently valued at over $16 billion.

Can Satoshi Nakamoto be found?

It is improbable but not impossible that Satoshi could be doxxed, but if history is anything to go by, that might prove to be a tall order. Satoshi has successfully evaded any identification showing that they took great effort to hide their tracks while coordinating and executing the launch of Bitcoin.

What was the goal of Satoshi Nakamoto?

The goal of Satoshi in launching Bitcoin was to provide an alternative currency devoid of the trust element essential to the functioning of the conventional financial system. He may have left subtle hints confirming this, including proposing and launching Bitcoin in 2008/9 during the meltdown of the global banking system. In the Genesis block, he also included the following quote from UK’s The Times magazine “The Times 03/Jan/2009 Chancellor on the brink of second bailout for banks.”

What does Satoshi Nakamoto mean?

Satoshi Nakamoto is a pseudonym used by the Bitcoin creator. It is the name used on all his public profiles, forum postings, and the original Bitcoin whitepaper. The name has a Japanese origin, with the first part referencing someone ‘wise’ and ‘quick in their thinking.’ ‘Nakamoto’ means the base or the foundation of something.

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