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Who is the secretive Bitcoin billionaire who invented Bitcoin? Unveiling Satoshi Nakamoto

·4-min read
Man showing bitcoin, fearful anonymous mask on face, cyber attack, robbery
Man showing bitcoin, fearful anonymous mask on face, cyber attack, robbery

Is Satoshi Nakamoto even real? Is he one person or a team of people? The mystery behind the Bitcoin creator.

Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency that has been in the news for several years now. These past few weeks, it appeared in the news again when Elon Musk stopped accepting it as payment for Tesla because of how much energy it consumes to be mined. The value of the cryptocurrency has since dropped considerably and now 1 bitcoin has been trading at over Rs 29.15 lakh. It is, by all means, a significant amount.

The cryptocurrency has had a volatile history as an asset class. When it was first launched in 2009, you couldn’t trade it and had to mine it instead. But the first price increase of Bitcoin took place in 2010 when the value of one Bitcoin went up from $0.0008 to $0.08. Over the years bitcoin has seen numerous rallies as well as crashes and has often been compared to the Dutch Tulip Mania of the 17th century. While it has received its share of criticism from investors around the world, including our very own Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, the value of Bitcoin has largely continued to surge. And yet, no one in the world knows who invented Bitcoin. All we know is a name: Satoshi Nakamoto.

Who is Satoshi Nakamoto?

Satoshi Nakamoto is a pseudonym used by the person or persons who developed bitcoin. In the process of developing bitcoin, Nakamoto also developed the first blockchain database in the world. Right up until 2010, Nakamoto was involved in the development of bitcoin but following that immediately disappeared.

There is no telling if Nakamoto is one person or a group of people. Over the years, several attempts have been made to reveal the true identity of Nakamoto, but none have been able to decisively prove that the people outed as Satoshi Nakamoto was in fact the one behind the nom de plume.

The search for Nakamoto remains this century’s Holy Grail, garnering perhaps more interest around it than the hunt for the identity of the famous street artist known as Banksy. Unlike Banksy, Nakamoto has never done interviews, hasn’t made any political statements, or any statements whatsoever. If Nakamoto is indeed a real person s/he/they are extremely reclusive.

In 2012, Nakamoto claimed to be a 37-year-old male living In Japan. However this is generally accepted to be a false statement, even though it has come from the proverbial horse’s mouth. One of the biggest reasons why this claim is believed to be false is because of how comfortable Nakamoto seemed to be in the use of English language. Additionally, due to the usage of certain words in their early interactions with fellow developers, it is also accepted that Satoshi Nakamoto is likely British or someone from the Commonwealth. A reference to a Times headline in 2009 in the first bitcoin block Nakamoto mined also points to Nakamoto being in England and not Japan.

But this isn’t all. Some have suggested that Nakamoto isn’t one single person but rather a group of people. Among those who subscribe to this theory are Dan Kaminsky, a famed security researcher who suggested that Satoshi Nakamoto could either be a team of people or, quite simply a genius who’d rather he be left alone. Also, among those who support the theory that Nakamoto is not one person but a team of people is Laszlo Hanyecz, a developer who has interacted with Nakamoto over email. Hanyecz believes that the bitcoin code was far too well designed to have been done by one person. As does John McAfee who has claimed Nakamoto is ‘a team of 11 people’.

The claim made by Nakamoto’s online handle of him being a Japanese man has been called into question by the simple act of tracking the timings of the posts. Stefan Thomas, a Swiss software engineer took the time out to graph the timestamps for every single of Nakamoto's bitcoin forum posts. It revealed almost zero activity between 5 am and 11 am GMT, which is 2 pm and 8 pm Japan Standard Time.

While all of this has proven what Satoshi Nakamoto is not – a middle-aged man living in Japan – it doesn’t prove who he is.

Several people have claimed to be Satoshi Nakamoto but all their claims to have been conclusively dismissed, making the identity of the bitcoin inventor likely as valued as the amount of bitcoin in Nakamoto’s wallet.

How much bitcoin does Satoshi Nakamoto have?

Just as it is difficult to identify who Satoshi Nakamoto is, it’s equally impossible to find out how much bitcoin Nakamoto owns. By all estimates, though, it is believe that Satoshi Nakamoto has nearly 1 million bitcoin, which translates to a little over $39 billion. It puts Satoshi Nakamoto among the top 40 richest people on the planet. That is to say, if Satoshi Nakamoto is single person at all.

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