Only the most paranoid, painstaking coder in the world could avoid making mistakes.– Newyorker Magazine
The quote from a 2011 article from a top security researcher talks about the ineffability and near perfection of the coding behind Bitcoin. Bitcoin, which had kickstarted a digital currency revolution in 2009, has been steadily rising for the past decade. ‘The next big thing after the Internet’, is often touted as the future of finance globally, given its decentralized peer-to-peer network of timestamps that allows for trustless transactions without the involvement of a third party.
Anyone who finds themselves remotely aware of the raging phenomenon called Bitcoin must be aware of Satoshi Nakamoto, the all-elusive founder of Bitcoin. An enigma himself, Satoshi Nakamoto is a probable pseudonym for the genius (or a team, we’re still playing the guessing game), behind the greatest disruption of the century. The legacy of Satoshi Nakamoto and Bitcoin is one of its kind, and the mystery it invokes isn’t any less than Egyptian pyramids coming into being.
Who is Satoshi Nakamoto?
What is needed is an electronic payment system based on cryptographic proof instead of trust, allowing any two willing parties to transact directly with each other without the need for a trusted third party.– Satoshi Nakamoto
Since, the founder of Bitcoin never revealed their identity to the world, all we can claim is that the name Satoshi Nakomoto is a probable pseudonym for the creator/s of Bitcoin. After the 2008 financial crisis, serious concerns were raised across the world regarding the workings of traditional banking institutions and the involvement of a central agency in the financial system of a country.
But here’s what we know:
- It was in 2008 when a website called ‘bitcoin.org’ was silently registered, and a whitepaper under the name Satoshi Nakamoto published.
- Satoshi solved the problem of double-spending and thereby creating the first-ever digital currency by releasing the first version source code of the decentralized network of blockchain.
- Satoshi was also one amongst the first few miners of the Bitcoin cryptocurrency.
- They continued working on the project for a year and a half before entirely disengaging.
- The last communication from them was through an email saying that they had “ moved on to other things’.
Controversies Revolving Around the Identity
It is claimed that the founder, Satoshi Nakamoto, was a Japanese man born on April 5 1975, residing in Japan. The claims do not hold much appeal given the fact that:
- the working hours preferred by him were as per the UK time
- Secondly, his command over native English.
Researchers around the world have tried to join these dots and form their own conclusions.
Bitcoin started its journey with a value of 0.0001 USD. As of August 2020, it has a value of over 11,000 USD. The early Bitcoin miners became millionaires figuratively overnight. There’s no inkling as to why the founder of Bitcoin did not cash in on the coins that they had mined and that are now worth billions of dollars. Amidst lack of evidence, speculations are rife, and several names have cropped up as the contenders in the past. Let’s have a look:
- Dorian Nakamoto, an engineer, and academic living in California, was first named as the founder of Bitcoin by Leah McGrath Goodman in 2014. As per records, this conclusion was derived following a trail that led to the Japanese-American. Dorian Nakamoto’s actual name was Satoshi Nakamoto. Dorian had to come forward and vehemently oppose the theory before the speculation could be put to rest.
- Hal Finney, became the prime contender after it was known that Finney was one amongst the few early miners. He was one of the prime movers of the cypherpunk movement that ultimately led to the birth of the Bitcoin community. He was a cryptographic developer as well. He died in 2014 of an ailment and was cryopreserved by the Alcor Life Extension Foundation.
- Nick Szabo, who proposed Bitgold, a decentralised currency, in 2005 much before the Bitcoin revolution is another important name that crops up. He had close links with Hal Finney and was another crypto-pioneer like Finney. Nick calls himself a ‘Blockchain, cryptocurrency, and smart contracts pioneer’.
The developer turned US presidential candidate, McAfee says that he is 99% sure that Satoshi Nakamoto is an alias for an 11 member team and he knows who the actual founder is. And the most bizarre candidate has been the Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk who is sometimes called the meme lord of crypto space. The complete, exhaustive list of the probable founders of Bitcoin contains at least 13 names. Linguists, researchers and others are still trying to bell the cat. Until now, all have been in vain.
The Need For a Facade
The disappearance of Satoshi Nakamoto from the crypto scene has always been marked with great curiosity. Satoshi Nakamoto holds approximately 5% of the total bitcoins in the world. That’s a huge stake to be abandoned after coding a brilliant decentralized network. The probable reasons that might have prevented the disclosure of identity could be thus:
- There are a few instances of dabbling and experimenting with digital money in the past that had proved disastrous for the propagator. Take the Bernard von Nothaus case of “Liberty Dollars”, where the man was charged with violating federal law and was given a six-month sentence followed by 3-year probation. In 2007, digital currency by the name E-Gold was shut down on charges of money laundering.
- The second and more obvious reason is one of the founding principles on which Bitcoin is based, i.e. It is a decentralized currency having no direct institutions or individuals attached to it. Revealing the name could have led to a centralized figure leading the bandwagon.
The heated speculations and conspiracy theories regarding the founder of bitcoin aren’t resting anytime soon. Still, the baffled inquisitiveness of the crypto-enthusiasts for the mystery surrounding the legend of the current times, Satoshi Nakamoto is quite genuine.
Bitcoin, in the times of pandemic, saw an upsurge despite the slogging financial markets and continues to be seen as a sought-after investment option by the big-wigs of the traditional industry and individuals of the common parlance.
The times aren’t far when the systems would be subverted to usher in a new phase of Bitcoin revolution as a mode of transaction. Times are changing, and changing for the better!