The visionary minds behind the world’s greatest inventions have long fascinated a wide range of people, regardless of the impact of their ideas and innovations on society, and for good reason. The nationalities, creeds, and general quirks of these individuals are sometimes emblematic of what they bring to the world but also sometimes overlap with these creations in counterproductive ways.
Bitcoin, generally regarded as the prototypical cryptocurrency, adds another layer of intrigue to this situation, due to the fact that its creator, Satoshi Nakamoto, is entirely pseudonymous. With the massive influence of Bitcoin’s whitepaper and reference material on other blockchains, cryptocurrencies, and the global financial system as a whole, some even theorize that Satoshi Nakamoto might have been a collective of people. or that they might have wanted their pivotal work to be a final contribution to the world, especially since there has been complete radio silence from Satoshi since 2010.
With Satoshi holding 1 million Bitcoin (out of a total supply cap of 21 million), interested parties also identify a rational element in finding their identity, as any movement in Satoshi’s holdings could significantly affect market perception of Bitcoin. and cryptocurrencies as a whole. Let’s take a look at some of the Internet’s most likely candidates and some of the potential implications of Satoshi’s identity.
Is Charlie Lee Satoshi Nakamoto?
Charlie Lee is the creator of Litecoin, which was one of the first established altcoins as Bitcoin grew. Due to Litecoin being similar in implementation to Bitcoin and a few other interesting events involving a supposed MIT Litecoin project, some people thought Charlie Lee was Satoshi in 2017. Lee responded to these theories while joking on Twitter, to the point that his Twitter handle is still SatoshiLite. Despite this, he concretely and systematically refuted any claim that he was Satoshi Nakamoto.
If it were to be Satoshi, Litecoin would likely rise significantly (although Lee has publicly sold off his LTC holdings to avoid any conflicts of interest) and would likely be more closely tied to BTC’s value, with the two ecosystems becoming more tightly integrated in a functional sense.
Is Dorian Nakamoto Satoshi Nakamoto?
In March 2014, Newsweek claimed that Japanese engineer Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto was in fact Satoshi Nakamoto, essentially using the shared names and nationality as the only core of substantial evidence. Dorian Nakamoto, a former engineer on defense projects residing in California, vehemently claimed no connection to Bitcoin and had his privacy invaded in the middle of this episode and received 100 BTC from the community as an apology.
Was Hal Finney Satoshi Nakamoto?
The late Hal Finney was a computer scientist closely affiliated with the PGP Corporation and several classic video games like Tron. As a well-known “cypherpunk,” he was an early adopter of Bitcoin, actually being the recipient of Satoshi’s first Bitcoin transaction. He also lived close to Dorian Nakamoto, which lends some credence to using his neighbor as some kind of “drop” identity.
He vehemently denied being Satoshi and tragically died of ALS in 2014, working on Bitcoin-adjacent projects until his death. If Finney was Satoshi and had no contingency plan for his BTC holdings (which is especially unlikely given his protracted battle with ALS), then his holdings can essentially be taken out of the 21 million max bid. of BTC.
Is Nick Szabo Satoshi Nakamoto?
Computer engineer Nick Szabo was first linked to the Bitcoin white paper through linguistic analysis and references to economist Carl Menger in late 2013. Additionally, he pioneered the concept of contracts smart in the late 1990s and conceptualized a precursor to Bitcoin called Bitgold. While Szabo, an avid user of pseudonyms in the 1990s, politely denied being Satoshi on several occasions, he admits to having a direct influence on many of the ideas underlying Bitcoin.
Is Craig Wright Satoshi Nakamoto?
Australian computer scientist Craig Wright has publicly claimed to be Satoshi on several occasions, claiming to have created Bitcoin with the late Hal Finney and the late Dave Kleiman. There is dubious and conclusive cryptographic evidence of this, including an alleged hacker who broke into Wright’s email accounts, claiming that Satoshi Nakamoto was a common alias for Craig Wright and Kleiman. There have been legal issues in the past between Wright and Kleiman’s estate, which vaguely proves Wright’s claims. Wright used libel law against people who refuted his claims, leaving conclusions about Craig Wright as an exercise for the reader.
Is Adam Back Satoshi Nakamoto?
Another possible candidate for the identity of Satoshi is British cypherpunk and Blockstream CEO Adam Back, having devised Hashcash, a predecessor to Bitcoin in the late 1990s. Back was supposed to be one of the first two people to receive an email from Satoshi before the official release of the Bitcoin whitepaper. Interestingly, Back was actually one of the people Craig Wright sued for claiming Wright wasn’t Satoshi. Throwback tweeted in April 2019: “Satoshi remaining anonymous is a #Bitcoin feature. If I had any logs that reduced the anonymity set on Satoshi’s identity, I would delete/shred them.
Will Satoshi Nakamoto ever be revealed?
Based on the harassment some people have gone through for potentially being Satoshi, it’s pretty unlikely that Satoshi will definitely reveal himself at this point. Satoshi’s anonymity also allows Bitcoin to be separated from dividing factors such as nationality, political beliefs or ideologies, which is crucial for the possibility of its international adoption. All that said, Ethereum’s Vitalik Buterin being a public identity kind of shows us what a world with a known Satoshi might look like.
The timeline of radio silence and the importance of Bitcoin make Satoshi’s death possible in some sense, but there’s really no way to know at this point. However, with the quality and complexity of the initial Bitcoin code base and the Satoshi emails between Hal Finney, Adam Back and others, it’s certainly possible that Satoshi was a bunch of people.