Who is Satoshi Nakamoto, the inventor of bitcoin?
The mystery surrounding the creator of the cryptocurrency hovers around three names. And to a millionaire legacy!
According to Nobel laureate Robert Shiller, one of the reasons for the success of bitcoin is the mystery that hovers over the figure of its creator, the elusive Satoshi Nakamoto.
It was he (she? they?) who sent the first bitcoin and he was responsible for the drafting of the white paper of bitcoin, the “sacred” text of cryptocurrency.
Over the years, various conjectures have been made about his identity, some newspapers have even tried the scoop, only to retract. Some have self-appointed Satoshi and who, suspected of being so, have denied and continue to do so. So the question remains: who is Satoshi Nakamoto?
To date, the most probable hypotheses are 3 or 4. In the beautiful Netflix documentary Banking on Bitcoin, the authors, data in hand, theorize that Satoshi should be part of the Cypherpunk (Nick Szabo, Hal Finney, Adam Back, Wei Dai), whose work of the 90s inspired the birth of Bitcoin and the Blockchain.
Satoshi could be the nom de plume, behind which the whole group or some of its components would be hidden. The brilliant Hal Finney, cryptographer who passed away in 2014, was one of the first to work with Satoshi and participated in the first bitcoin transaction ever. But what makes him the number 1 suspect is the fact that when he fell dramatically ill with ALS, in 2011, Satoshi disappeared from the radar.
Not only that: Dorian Nakamoto, the computer scientist who the media for a moment believed to be Satoshi, was only discovered to be someone who had borrowed his name, lived in a suburb of Los Angeles just 3 km from Finney. Coincidences? Maybe!
The second big suspect is Nick Szabo, former inventor of Bit Gold, the cryptocurrency that inspired Bitcoin. Yet oddly enough, the Bitcoin white paper refers to various projects, but not to Szabo’s Bit Gold, which is the closest precedent. Furthermore, an examination of the style of writing found many similarities between Szabo’s writings and the author of the white paper, including the peculiar habit of publishing two spaces at the beginning of a sentence.
Last but not least, before the launch of bitcoin, Szabo had asked some programmers on a forum for help in launching a “new idea” and for months after the launch of Bitcoin he remained in religious silence. A little weird, let’s face it.
The hypothesis is that if not the whole group of cypherpunks, at least Szabo and the late Finney have interpreted the script of the deus ex machina in turn. Mystery solved, then? Well no.
A few years ago, the Australian entrepreneur Craig Steven Wright declared himself: “I am Satoshi”. He produced some evidence and convinced major media that he is the father of Bitcoin.
To some extent, this hypothesis appeared credible, but reporters soon discovered a number of inconsistencies in Wright’s claims that could have pointed to “an elaborate long-planned hoax.” And the Wright hypothesis is over.
The background of Wright’s coming out, with its behind the front, are the heart of the book The Secret Life of Andrew O’Hagan (Adelphi), former biographer of Julian Assange, which tells of when he was called by Robert MacGregor, CEO of nTrust, to write the biography of Wright / Satoshi, until he discovered that it could be a bluff.
“All the protagonists of this story – writes O’Hagan – wanted me to tell their story, then not to tell it, then to hide it in the vault from which it came out. It seemed like a brand new story but, in reality, it was very old, a story of metamorphosis, and of Prometheus freed. Craig Wright had cryptographically demonstrated that he had Satoshi’s keys, his emails seemed to attest to his involvement, his scientific articles were based on blockchain technology, and he himself took part for a full year in a business plan to reveal all this. But, at the time of doing it, he acted like an impostor, he changed shape.
Finney, Szabo, Wright: just one of them or all three. Today we can say with some degree of certainty that the circle around Satoshi tightens around these three names. And it’s not just a question of revealing a pseudonym, as for the writer Elena Ferrante or the street artist Banksy.
There are those who are convinced that the mystery of who created Bitcoin is also linked to the disappearance of several million bitcoins, which placed on the market could give a good shake to the cryptocurrency sector. But that’s a whole other story.