Bitcoin was created by Satoshi Nakamoto, (almost certainly) a pseudonym, that no one has been able to conclusively connect to an actual person or group of people to this day. Nakamoto vanished from the internet in 2011, leaving few clues as to who they might be. Over the years, many people have publicly claimed to be Satoshi, all failing to support the statement with indisputable facts.
In an early bitcointalk forum, Satoshi said that they started working on Bitcoin in 2007, two years before the first block was mined. The Genesis block, or the first block in the Bitcoin blockchain, was mined on January 3, 2009. Nakamoto was the miner of the Genesis block, receiving the first 50 bitcoins ever put into circulation. This reward from the first block, however, was unspendable due to a quirk in the way the Genesis block is expressed in the code. BitMEX Research has published an analysis on the early mining days of Bitcoin and concluded that “someone” mined 700,000 coins. While many assume this was Satoshi, it officially remains unproven.
One can only imagine the fame Satoshi Nakamoto would receive if their identity ever were to come to light, not to mention the immense riches they stand to collect (though Satoshi appears not to have spent any of the coins they supposedly mined). Over time, there have been many instances of people claiming to be Satoshi, and others who’ve had that claim thrust upon them.
One of the most well-known cases of someone claiming to be Satoshi is by Craig S. Wright, an Australian academic. Wright, as early 2015, has tried multiple times to provide a public demonstration with indisputable evidence that he was Bitcoin’s inventor, but he has not been successful to this day. In fact, his “proof” has proven to be fabricated.
Dorian Nakamoto, a man in California, was once publicly assigned the title of Bitcoin’s creator by a newspaper journalist who noticed several similarities between the two Nakamotos, most obviously their surname. Very quickly, however, this claim was denied by Dorian and disproved as well.
Another class of people who have garnered attention around Satoshi’s unknown identity are cryptographers and computer scientists. Hal Finney, a renowned cryptographer who was the first person to receive bitcoins from Satoshi Nakamoto, is one of the most famous suspects due to his early involvement in the space. For less than a year after Bitcoin was created, Satoshi and Hal Finney exchanged several posts on Bitcoin discussion forums, discussing things like the technology and its future implications. Finney passed away from ALS in 2014, leading some to speculate on the extent of his involvement with the world’s first decentralized currency. Nick Szabo is another renowned cryptographer who created Bit Gold, a digital currency invented several years before Bitcoin. The fact that he does not appear to have been directly involved with Bitcoin’s creation, though his project is so remarkably similar to it, has led some to speculate he might be Bitcoin’s creator as well.
Why Satoshi Must Be Anonymous
Satoshi Nakamoto, the creator of the world’s first decentralized currency, arguably should remain anonymous because of the nature of their creation. Having created a protocol with no central point of failure, Nakamoto may have realized that maintaining his anonymity may remove the very last central point of failure Bitcoin could possibly have: the person who created it. Removing the single identity that could be associated with the advent of Bitcoin removes any single face that could influence the politics, rules or decision-making of the Bitcoin community.
Whoever Satoshi is, they are undeniably a genius of our time. The Bitcoin protocol provides economic incentives in all the right places resulting in an exceptional solution to the Byzantine Generals’ Problem. Satoshi Nakamoto applies concepts from cryptography, mathematics, game theory and economics to create a beautifully designed — and the world’s first — digitally scarce asset called Bitcoin.
This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.