Who is the inventor of Bitcoin? A look back at the story of the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto

On January 3, 2009, a user under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto appeared on the “P2P Foundation” forum. The person behind the mysterious account is said to be the originator of the invention of Bitcoin. Who is he and what are his motivations?

Summary

  • Satoshi Nakamoto: the pseudonym behind the Bitcoin project
  • The Cypherpunk Community Behind Bitcoin
  • The potential suspects behind Bitcoin
  • Why knowing the identity of the inventor could endanger Bitcoin?

Satoshi Nakamoto: the pseudonym behind the Bitcoin project

It all starts with a simple message on the “P2P Foundation” forum dedicated to decentralization… On February 11, 2009 at 10:27 p.m., a certain Satoshi Nakamoto shares his project:

“I developed a new open source P2P electronic payment system called Bitcoin. It is completely decentralized, with no central server or trusted third party, because everything is based on cryptographic proof instead of trust. Try it or take a look at the screenshots and design document. »

Satoshi explains that he (or she) has created a new fully decentralized person-to-person (P2P) online payment system based on a cryptocurrency: bitcoin (BTC). The anonymous individual explains that he has been working since 2005 to create this new system. The project aims to be an alternative to banks by using the blockchain as a trusted third party. Indeed, the technology makes it possible to validate transactions without calling on an external body.

The timing is well chosen by Satoshi, since this first message comes after the 2008 Subprime financial crisis. In this context Satoshi Nakamoto makes it known that the creation of his decentralized network offers an alternative to the traditional banking system, at the origin of crisis.

There will then follow a long list of 544 messages on the “P2P Foundation” forum in which the creator of Bitcoin technically explains the operation of the first cryptocurrency on the Internet. However, it will stop all communication concerning Bitcoin from December 12, 2010.

This penultimate message left a multitude of questions concerning the identity of the so-called Satoshi…

The Cypherpunk Community Behind Bitcoin

To understand Satoshi Nakamoto’s motivations, you have to understand where his values ​​come from.

The origin of Bitcoin is the Cypherpunk movement. Made up of Cypher (cipher) meaning encryption and punk representing the rebellious spirit of the group, the Cypherpunks campaign for freedom of anonymity on the networks.

Appeared in the 80s, cypherpunks are a community whose ambition is to protect the personal information of users on the Internet. Advocating anonymity at the beginning of the era of telecommunications and the dissemination of large-scale data, the collective quickly understood the issues surrounding data. Visionaries, the Cypherpunks anticipated the misuse of personal data by certain groups, which we know today.

More than just a protest movement, cypherpunks are the starting point of internet cryptography. When the web appeared in the 1990s, the information transmitted on the web by individuals was easily searchable without much effort. As a result, the Cypherpunk community has decided to use data encryption to assert the right to anonymity of Internet users. From this initiative is born: cryptography.

Concretely, the goal is to hide each piece of data from users who do not have the key necessary to decrypt it. For example, if you send a message to a user, it will be viewable only by the recipient.

These many libertarian principles are found in Bitcoin. For this reason, it is believed that Satoshi was largely inspired by the work of this community to develop his cryptocurrency.

It could even be that some recognized members of the Cypherpunks have actively participated in the development of this technological revolution…

The potential suspects behind Bitcoin

Despite his numerous interventions on the forum, no one knows the identity of the user, nevertheless a name comes up frequently, that Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto. Indeed, the Japanese resident was put on the front of the stage as the inventor of Bitcoin by the famous magazine NewsWeek in 2014. However, it is not so, since an individual whose goal would be to remain anonymous surely would never have used his real identity in the design of his nickname. The Japanese engineer had to quickly deny it to stop the media frenzy around him.

Faced with this affair, the main interested party will resurface in 2014 on the forum with a final message: “I am not Dorian Nakamoto. », after 4 years of inactivity.

After this disillusionment, however, investigators into the inventor of Bitcoin never threw in the towel…

Nick Szabo

Nick Szabo, is on the list of suspects. In 1998, the computer scientist set up Bit Gold. Considered the ancestor of bitcoin, this decentralized digital currency takes up the great principle of the block chain behind bitcoin. Despite this, few elements agree since Satoshi, in many exchanges, seemed to ignore Nick Szabo’s ideas.

In addition, Nick will explain firmly: “As I have stated many times before, all this speculation is flattering, but incorrect – I am not Satoshi. “.

Hal Finney, who died of Charcot’s disease in 2014, also attracted the attention of the curious. The American developer had worked on cryptography within PGP. More intriguing, Hal Finney is the first to see the first reusable proof of work, 3 years before the birth of Bitcoin. This principle makes it possible to validate the veracity of information through computing power. As a result, RPOW (reusable proof-of-work) is the ancestor of POW (proof-of-work) technology used by miners to secure the Bitcoin network. Also, Hal Finney is one of the first to have received a bitcoin address transaction from Satoshi Nakamoto in 2009. The man who was actively part of the CypherPunks community within “The Cypherpunks Mailing List” has nevertheless always formally clear on the issue around the Bitcoin invention. Therefore, we imagine that Hal Finney surely contributed to the establishment of the Bitcoin network, but he is not the creator.

Wei Dai

Also CypherPunk at heart, Wei Dai, a cryptographic engineer at Microsoft, was the first to conceptualize Bitcoin. Coming from the same university as Nick Szabo, the American computer scientist, theorizes the digital currency of the future under the name of “B-money”. However, this will never see the light of day. As with bit-gold, Satoshi’s exchanges highlight his ignorance of B-money.

Adam Back

Adam Back is considered the prime suspect. The British developer is the first to have theorized the proof-of-work (POW) system with hashcash. Its system, initially created to limit spam, served as an anchor in the creation of the Bitcoin network. In addition, according to several reports, the fingerprint determined by the configuration and settings of the computer is a strong argument. Concretely, a recent study indicates that the fingerprint on the Hashcash system is identical to that on Bitcoin, suggesting that both were created on the same computer. Another disturbing element, the messages written by Satoshi on the forum reveals a spelling style similar to that of a British citizen, the nationality of Adam Back. Despite these facts, Adam Back never admitted to being Satoshi Nakamoto.

Although the list of suspects is long, the identity behind bitcoin still remains mysterious since no proof is irrefutable. We imagine that the list enumerated previously includes key figures in the creation of Bitcoin, letting us think that it could be a group rather than a single individual. Moreover, this desired anonymity is necessary for the good of the development of Bitcoin…

Why knowing the identity of the inventor could endanger Bitcoin?

The so-called Satoshi Nakamoto, posing as a 37-year-old Japanese man in 2012, is the main threat to his invention. As a self-respecting Cypherpunk, Satoshi is aware that revealing his identity could spell the end of Bitcoin.

The anonymity of the creator preserves Bitcoin since in the absence of physical existence, the Bitcoin entity is unassailable. For this reason, the main refractories such as traditional finance or states have never been able to file a complaint against Bitcoin. Also, it cannot be easily deactivated since its global “blockchain” would require the simultaneous disconnection of all the miners’ machines, i.e. millions or even billions of machines.

As a creator, Satoshi was the first to mine bitcoin. The mining difficulty was so low at the time that it is estimated that nearly one million BTC was mined by the creator(s). If it turns out that a single person is behind the invention of bitcoin, the total sum distributed over these addresses would rank Satoshi Nakamoto in the top 50 of the richest people in the world with, at current prices, around 20 billion dollars. euros to have. However, this does not seem to interest Satoshi because the blockchain register allows us to consult his first bitcoins and it turns out that none of these first BTCs have moved since 2009.

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