Who is Satoshi Nakamoto?

Introduction to the creator of Bitcoin

Satoshi Nakamoto is the pseudonymous name of the creator(s) behind Bitcoin — the world’s first globally viable cryptocurrency project.

But, who is this mysterious figure that kickstarted the cryptocurrency revolution?

It is a question that has puzzled thousands over the last decade, ever since the unknown phantom published their famous Bitcoin white paper in 2008. 

This 9-page document would quickly catalyze an entire industry of cryptographically-secured digital currencies known as cryptocurrency. In the process, the unknown Satoshi Nakamoto blazed a new financial frontier.

Like all great puzzles, the quest to identify Bitcoin's creator(s) consists of several prominent suspects, clues, and false trails.

Over the years, analysts have carefully examined everything from Nakamoto's writing style to their time zone activity in a bid to narrow down their possible location. But so far, no definitive evidence has ever been produced.

Despite the endless questions, there are a few indisputable facts that we do know about Nakamoto, such as their mastery of cryptography and computer science. Despite a countless number of leading computer programmers failing to produce a working cryptocurrency, Nakamoto was able to find the solution.

When they launched the Bitcoin protocol in 2009, the world received its first borderless, decentralized electronic cash system. This system functioned in a completely peer-to-peer manner without any reliance on a trusted intermediary.

It was a watershed moment in history, made even more poignant by Nakamoto's anonymity and eventual disappearance.

Satoshi nakamoto image

Who were the Cypherpunks?

Many have come to associate Satoshi Nakamoto with the Cypherpunk movement. 

Cypherpunks are generally defined as individuals who advocate for the use of cryptography in order to enhance privacy in our day to day lives.

Many of the world's most prominent computer scientists and programmers belonged to this group, including Satoshi Nakamoto and Hal Finney.

Other notable members included:

  • Adam Back: The current CEO of Blockstream and the inventor of Hashcash. Hashcash was one of the early cryptocurrency projects predating Bitcoin, and was the first of its kind to incorporate a proof-of-work based system.
  • Nick Szabo: The creator of BitGold, another precursor to Bitcoin conceived in the late 90s. Like Hashcash, BitGold produced a lot of features that Nakamoto would later include in the Bitcoin protocol, including time-stamped blocks and cryptographic hash-based mining. Szabo was also the first person to coin the term “smart contract” in 1994.
  • Wei Dai: The man behind B-money, a theoretical cryptocurrency project that was among the very first decentralized currency systems ever proposed.

The Cypherpunk movement focused on self-sovereign privacy and the removal of overarching government surveillance. 

The pseudonymous, decentralized, and peer-to-peer nature of cryptocurrency networks stems from these core beliefs.

The creation of Bitcoin

During Bitcoin's earliest days, most of the discussion between Nakamoto and other interested cryptographers took place on a hosted mailing list.

In the threads, Nakamoto mentions how they had started coding the protocol around 2007, one year before the Bitcoin white paper's publication.

In August 2008, Nakamoto purchased the website domain. Several sources cite that Martti Malmi, another developer, was also involved in this process. However, Malmi has since refuted this claim publicly on Twitter.

On January 3, 2009, Nakamoto activated the Bitcoin protocol by mining the genesis block. This block became the first ever on Bitcoin's blockchain. To mark the occasion, Nakamoto famously embedded a headline from that day's issue of The Times newspaper.

"The Times 03/Jan/2009 Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks."

Bitcoin's debut arrived in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. This was a time when the United States' subprime mortgage disaster had wreaked havoc throughout the global economy, causing immeasurable damage to people's lives.

A lot of early Bitcoin supporters quickly flocked to the project, including Gavin Andresen and the late Hal Finney.

Finney was one of the leading minds in computer science at the time, credited with developing the reusable proof-of-work consensus mechanism. This feature would become a central component of Bitcoin's decentralized infrastructure.

After its launch, Nakamoto continued to refine the Bitcoin protocol over the following three years. April 23, 2011, marked the date of Nakamoto's last online correspondence.

In an email to fellow Bitcoin developer Mike Hearn, Nakamoto wrote,

"I've moved on to other things. It's in good hands with Gavin [Andresen] and everyone."

New messages from Satoshi Nakamoto's official accounts emerged some years after this email, though many believe hackers had gained access to these profiles.

The rumors surrounding Satoshi Nakamoto

According to Satoshi Nakamoto's P2P Foundation profile, it states they are a 48-year-old Japanese male (as of 2023). However, few regard this information as being accurate and reliable.

Other information, such as their spelling and decision to include the headline of a British newspaper in the Bitcoin genesis block, has led many to believe Nakamoto might have been from the United Kingdom.

A more recent analysis of Satoshi's online activity seems to support this theory. It posits that Nakamoto may have lived in London while developing Bitcoin. The research considered 34 emails, 539 Bitcointalk forum posts, 169 Sourceforge commits, and other key pieces of information published by Nakamoto to arrive at this conclusion.

In 2011, an investigative journalist pointed to three men responsible for filing a patent application on "Updating and Distributing Encryption Keys," as the potential group behind Satoshi Nakamoto.

Not only was the patent filed just a few months before Nakamoto released the Bitcoin white paper, but it also contained the phrase "computationally impractical to reverse" — the exact same phrase that would later feature in the white paper.

The patent's inventors, Neal King, Vladimir Oksman, and Charles Bry, unanimously denied the allegations that they are Satoshi Nakamoto.

Other interesting rumors include the Illuminati, the CIA, and billionaire SpaceX CEO Elon Musk as being other potential suspects behind Bitcoin.

Other key suspects

Clues leading to both Hal Finney (the creator of proof-of-work) and Nick Szabo (the first person to propose smart contracts), continue to fix the two Cypherpunks as likely culprits behind Bitcoin.

Interestingly, Finney was the first person to receive a bitcoin transaction from Nakamoto, and was later found to have lived in the same town as a man named Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto.

Before Finney died in 2014, he also shared a series of private emails between himself and Nakamoto with The Wall Street Journal.

For reasons unknown, many emails were missing header data. Additionally, analysts found Finney's server had recorded receiving email correspondence from Nakamoto, before Nakamoto's server did.

This evidence suggests that Hal Finney and Nakamoto's emails may have been connected on the same account.

Could it be that the messages came from the same person and were merely meant as a distraction? We simply don’t know. 

Meanwhile, perhaps the most interesting piece of evidence pointing to Nick Szabo comes from one of the aforementioned emails between Hal Finney and Nakamoto.

In it, Satoshi talks about bitcoin public wallet addresses and how their randomly assigned string of alphanumeric code contained their initials,

"I just thought of something. Eventually there'll be some interest in brute force scanning bitcoin addresses to find one with the first few characters customized to your name, kind of like getting a phone number that spells out something. Just by chance I have my initials."

The address in question - 1NSwywA5Dvuyw89sfs3oLPvLiDNGf48cPD

NS = Nick Szabo.

Of course, if you believe that Hal Finney was Satoshi Nakamoto, then it's perfectly plausible this might've been another attempt to divert attention away from him and toward Nick Szabo.

How rich is Satoshi Nakamoto?

While it's impossible to know exactly how many bitcoin Nakamoto mined before they left the network, it's estimated to be somewhere between 800,000 to 1,100,000 BTC.

At today's bitcoin price, this trove of coins makes Nakamoto one of the wealthiest people in the world.

If you do not have the funds avalible to accumulate as much bitcoin as Satoshi Nakamoto, don't worry! Remember, just like every dollars is made up of 100 cents, every unit of bitcoin can be broken down into millions of smaller units called satoshis.

If you are interested in learning more about satoshis, check out our Satoshi to USD Converter to see the current satoshi to USD price or see how many satoshis your bitcoin is worth.

The self-proclaimers

As with any unclaimed revolutionary invention, it wasn’t long before numerous people  stepped forward proclaiming to be Satoshi Nakmoto.

Despite Nakamoto going to considerable lengths to disguise their true identity, dozens of candidates have since come forward over the years claiming to be the phantom behind Bitcoin.

In no particular order, those claiming to be Satoshi Nakamoto include:

  • Jörg Molt: A former DJ from Germany who was arrested in 2021 for fraud.
  • Craig Steven Wright: An Australian computer scientist who has engaged in several lengthy and high profile legal battles over his alleged claim to Bitcoin’s throne.
  • James Bilal Caan: An NHS worker in England who published a three-part blog series outlining their alleged origins as Satoshi Nakamoto. All blog posts have since been deleted.
  • Debo Jurgen Etienne Guido: A Belgian man known by the Twitter handle @realsatoshin. Guido reportedly sent a hand-written testimony to the Southern District of Florida court handling one of Craig Wright's lawsuits claiming he was the true Satoshi. Not Craig Wright.
  • Phil Wilson: A man claiming to have developed Bitcoin in partnership with Craig Wright and Dave Kleiman (Wright's former business partner). Wright continues to dispel Wilson's claim as fraudulent.

Uniting all of these claims is the fact that none of the above candidates have been able to provide evidence to back up their assertions.

It has long been accepted that the easiest, quickest, and most irrefutable way to prove that someone is Satoshi Nakamoto is to digitally sign a message using the private key associated with the genesis block. Alternatively, they could move any of the 50 BTC received from mining the genesis block. Doing so would prove they hold Nakamoto's private keys, something only they would naturally have.

We continue to wait for such an event to happen.

Importance of Satoshi Nakamoto

While the question of who Satoshi Nakamoto truly is might remain unanswered, the enduring legacy of their creation is undeniable.

Bitcoin has transformed economies, challenged traditional financial systems, and ignited conversations about decentralization, privacy, and the nature of value itself.

Whether Satoshi's real identity ever comes to light or remains shrouded in anonymity, their ingenuity has already left an indelible mark on the course of history.

Now that you have learned a bit about Bitcoin’s creator, and the significance of their identity remaining a mystery, are you ready to take the next step? 

Sign up for Kraken and start buying bitcoin today.