• Amanda Jaffe

The Most Wanted Man in the World: Satoshi Nakamoto

You always hear about bitcoin, but what is bitcoin really and how does it work? Bitcoin is a digital currency that was officially created in 2009 based on a paper written by Satoshi Nakamoto. Bitcoin is not physical. Instead, its balances are kept on a public ledger, which anyone can see. Bitcoin is decentralized, as it is not run by a single person or the government. Bitcoin can be bought and exchanged between people all through computer systems. Bitcoin is stored digitally on your computer or phone. There are only so many bitcoins in circulation, but more bitcoins can be released through a process called mining. People “mine” for bitcoins by using computer programs to solve complex math problems, which in turn generates more unique numbers and associated bitcoins.

So now you know how bitcoin works, but who invented it? One really important part of bitcoin is that it has no CEO, no leader. A paper was published in the following months after the establishment of bitcoin.org. The paper called Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System was published under the pen name Satoshi Nakamoto.

No one knows who Satoshi Nakamoto truly is, but many people have been suspected. Many believe this mysterious figure is a man named Dorian S. Nakamoto based on his name and his training as an engineer. However, he has come out and denied that he was involved in bitcoin, and Satoshi Nakamoto even wrote in an online forum, “I am not Dorian Nakamoto.”

On the other hand, Australian Craig Wright came out and claimed to be the inventor of bitcoin. His proof was his own blog posts about cryptocurrency that predated Satoshi Nakamoto’s paper by a few months. Unfortunately for him, further evidence has shown that his blog entries seem to be back dated.

The final suspect is Nick Szabo, who created his own cryptocurrency in the 90s called “bit gold.” Szabo denies that he is involved with bitcoin, but strong evidence points to Szabo being Satoshi Nakamoto. Researchers even went as far as studying the linguistics between Nakamoto and thirteen other people who could have potentially created bitcoin. The results: Szabo was the closest match by far. Other names have been floated around as the inventor of bitcoin, such as Elon Musk, but he denies these claims just like almost everyone else.

If Satoshi Nakamoto ever wanted to reveal who he truly was, he could do it a couple of different ways. One way is through his PGP key, which is unique to him, and Nakamoto could attach his real identity to the key in a blog post. The other way is if Nakamoto transfers his bitcoin to another account, one linked to his real name. Nakamoto may have millions of bitcoins, which would amass to billions of dollars; a transfer this large would be recognized and flagged, and his identity would be then revealed. Many believe the inventor of bitcoin went through all this trouble to hide his identity in order to protect himself from prosecution by the government. People who previously tried to invent their own currency have been identified and their companies shut down.

Bitcoin is also based on the value of decentralization, so there is no person in charge. Take the metaphors of a starfish and a spider: if you chop off a starfish’s leg, it grows back. while if you chop off a spider’s head, it dies. If Satoshi Nakamoto were to reveal who he truly is, it may affect Bitcoin’s operation as a whole, as he may become a sort of head for the currency.

However, there is evidence in his coding and blog posts that point to the type of person he is. It is suspected he is a libertarian, and created bitcoin during the financial crisis of 2007 in hopes of finding an alternative to the corrupt banking system. Additional information on Satoshi Nakamoto includes that he is nothing short of brilliant -- the bitcoin code is nearly perfect and is written meticulously. Nakamoto is also suspected to speak fluent English based on his paper and coding.

Additionally, based on the paper, people also believe he is British because of his referring to math as maths. Nakamoto might be so smart he is leaving behind red herrings, or he might not even be one person. What we do know is that Satoshi Nakamoto changed the course of currency forever.