Who Is Satoshi Nakamoto?
Satoshi Nakamoto created Bitcoin, but little is known about their identity. Does anybody know who Satoshi Nakamoto is?
Updated October 3, 2023 • 2 min read
Invented by Satoshi Nakamoto, the Bitcoin blockchain went live in 2009. To this day, there is no consensus on who the real Satoshi Nakamoto is. While claiming to be a Japanese male on one online profile, many believe that “Satoshi Nakamoto” is a pseudonym — not the Bitcoin creator’s real name. Some believe Satoshi is the work of a solitary genius; others believe that Satoshi was a brilliant and secretive group of people. Satoshi largely stopped participating in Bitcoin discussions and development in 2011. Will we ever know who Satoshi Nakamoto is?
Pseudonymous Cypherpunk Satoshi Nakamoto Created Bitcoin
While the origins of Bitcoin are well-documented, the identity of its pseudonymous creator Satoshi Nakamoto remains unknown. On one of their online profiles, Satoshi claimed to be a Japanese male — although some believe this was only done to give the “Satoshi Nakamoto” pseudonym credibility. The only definitive clues we have as to their identity are online communications from a period between 2008 and 2011, including Satoshi Nakamoto quotes, emails, code releases, and forum posts.
Let’s look at Satoshi’s online activity and what we know from their early communications. The cypherpunk Satoshi Nakamoto began working on Bitcoin in 2007. In August 2008, Satoshi purchased the Bitcoin.org domain and published the Bitcoin whitepaper. Two months later, they shared their peer-to-peer (P2P) cash creation with the Cryptography Mailing List, an (at the time) obscure mailing list that focused on cryptography and privacy-preserving technologies. Their post included an abstract of the Bitcoin whitepaper as well as a link to the Bitcoin.org website.
In 2009, the Bitcoin blockchain sprung to life. Satoshi mined the first block — Bitcoin’s genesis block — on January 3, 2009. Initially, the network dished out a block reward of 50 bitcoin (BTC). Satoshi initially mined a lot of BTC (more on this later). During 2009, they interacted with fellow Bitcoiners — Bitcoin enthusiasts — answering questions and resolving issues. Throughout the year, they released new versions of Bitcoin that improved its performance and fixed bugs.
In 2010, Satoshi Nakamoto continued to interact with other enthusiasts via email and message boards. They released a few more code updates and then started to withdraw from the project. In 2011, Satoshi messaged the Bitcoin developer Mike Hearn and said they had “moved onto other things,” before going silent.
From 2012–2013, Satoshi didn’t appear online or make any posts. In 2014, Satoshi briefly reappeared to counter an article that claimed Dorian Nakamoto was Satoshi by writing “I am not Dorian Nakamoto.” This was ostensibly the last message from Satoshi Nakamoto.
Will We Ever Know Who Satoshi Nakamoto Is?
With no word from Satoshi since 2014, some believe we will never know Satoshi’s true identity. How much is Satoshi Nakamoto worth? Well, based on a review of their public addresses (hashed versions of Satoshi Nakamoto’s public keys), the bitcoin in their wallets — as many as 1.1 million BTC (worth billions upon billions of USD at time of writing) — has not been moved or spent since 2009. This amount of BTC would count Satoshi among the richest people on the planet. This has led to speculation that Satoshi is dead or lost their wallets’ private keys — or they have the superhuman discipline to hold onto a cryptographic treasure trove.
Many Bitcoin enthusiasts believe that having an anonymous creator is one of its strengths — positing that if Satoshi was revealed, it could hurt the project — regardless of who Satoshi is. Others see this mystery as nothing more than a curiosity. In any event, due to its decentralized nature, Satoshi no longer has any direct control over the development of the Bitcoin blockchain ecosystem. If Satoshi Nakamoto is still alive, it certainly seems they want to remain pseudonymous.
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