The proponents of bitcoin love to tell us how it’s the future and to be quite honest, I believe them.
Yet for many of us non-experts, we really don’t know all that much about it, other than the fact it’s a cryptocurrency worth an awful lot of money.
We know it’s peer-to-peer, which means there’s no central bank controlling the money, so therefore the whole thing is governed by the system.
Just who created bitcoin though? This is a question which has long plagued the international community – who are invested in cryptocurrencies – and a question which has no solid answer.
Yes, there’ve been people who’ve claimed to be the creator of bitcoin, but there are serious reasons to doubt all of them.
All we know is the creator’s online pseudonym: Satoshi Nakamoto and that’s about it really.
Bitcoin started in 2007, when Satoshi Nakamoto started writing the code which would become the basis of the massive online currency we know today and in November 2008, the official mission statement of bitcoin was published.
This was a watershed moment for the currency and by extension, for the online world as a whole.
Since the development of bitcoin, there’ve been hundreds of imitators and competitors and it’s revolutionised online transactions – so it makes sense people would want to know just who’s behind this important moment in online history.
Just when everything seemed to be going well, Satoshi Nakamoto went dark – at the end of 2010 he vanished into thin air. What were once frequent forum posts and e-mails to a wide reader base, they ceased.
Since then, journalists the world over have been obsessively digging into the data and trying to find out who the creator of bitcoin really is.
We’ve had numerous misidentifications and a handful of people who’ve even claimed to be Nakamoto, but nobody has come forward who can definitively prove they are Nakamoto.
The first frenzy was on March 6 2014 and came from Newsweek, who claimed they’d identified Dorian Prentice Satoshi Nakamoto as the man himself – Nakamoto was a Japanese American computer engineer, living in California.
The article makes the case, name aside, there was a substantial amount of evidence pointing to Nakamoto being the creator.
However, much of this evidence was circumstantial – Nakamoto’s daughter claimed he’d turned libertarian after being fired twice and didn’t actually prove anything concrete about Nakamoto being, well, Nakamoto.
Dorian Nakamoto was subjected to a media onslaught and he strenuously denied all allegations of his involvement in bitcoin.
After much media speculation a message was posted online – using an account which had previously been linked to the real Satoshi Nakamoto.
It simply read: ‘I am not Dorian Nakamoto.’ This message in itself is subject to serious question though. The account which posted the comment was linked to Satoshi Nakamoto, but is currently thought to have been hacked – meaning the message was not sent by him.
So not Dorian Nakamoto, another possibility was Hal Finney – a ‘cryptographic pioneer’ and the first person, (aside from Nakamoto) to ever use the software and improve it – he was a champion of the system and interestingly enough, lived not far from our old friend, Dorian Nakamoto.
According to Forbes, an analysis of Hal Finney’s writing, compared to a sample of Satoshi Nakamoto’s, drew up the closest resemblance known to date.
This caused much speculation about the possibility of Finney being Nakamoto himself, though the journalist who originally made the allegation decided this was not the case due to evidence such as Finney’s bitcoin wallet history.
And so comes to the big claim from Craig Steven Wright, an Australian former academic, who said he was indeed Nakamoto…
Back in 2015, news broke via Wired and Gizmodo, who both claimed this man had all the evidence necessary to prove he was indeed Satoshi Nakamoto – some allegations claimed Wright and his friend David Kleiman were both Nakamoto, though Kleiman died in 2013.
Eventually, Craig himself claimed to be Satoshi Nakamoto and said he’d proved it to journalists from the BBC and The Economist by sending a message using the private key which was associated with the first bitcoin transaction.
However, people were still not convinced and posted some incredibly strong arguments against Wright being the now-mythical Nakamoto. Not least of which is the article claiming Wright doctored his private key proving his identity to look like Nakamoto, when indeed it couldn’t have been the creator.
As Motherboard noted, both the keys which were supplied to Wired and Gizmodo could very much have fake creation dates, which look like they were made in 2008, but were in fact, made much later.
The method of encryption, used on the key known to be from Satoshi, is different from the one given by Craig Wright – Wright’s key uses a cipher-suite which could only have been made in 2009.
The Wired key was retroactively added to a 2008 blogpost sometime between 2012 and 2014, as noted in its story.
A core Bitcoin developer who’s been involved from nearly the beginning looked back at 2011 chatlogs referring to ‘fake’ Satoshi keys on keyservers and found no reference to either the Gizmodo or Wired keys.
He thinks those keys weren’t yet uploaded to the keyserver in 2011.
Wright did take to his blog to say he would provide further evidence he was Satoshi Nakamoto, but later deleted these posts and wrote an apology.
I believed I could put the years of anonymity and hiding behind me. But, as the events of this week unfolded and I prepared to publish the proof of access to the earliest keys, I broke.
I do not have the courage. I cannot.
There have been other allegations across the world about the true identity of Satoshi Nakamoto, including of Elon Musk, but all have remained largely unfounded and are often denied by the person at whom the allegations are levelled.
Whoever Satoshi Nakamoto is, he’s sat on a fortune which would make him one of the richest men in the world, but due to his anonymity, unable to get rid of his bitcoin.
It’s an ironic story, to be sure. In a system which is supposed to create a network of financial gain, which isn’t based on trust but on a neutral blockchain which removes any intermediaries, the person who created such a system seems to be incredibly important.