The financial landscape well and truly changed after Bitcoin was released in 2009. The new digital cash system took the financial power away from banks and government entities and put it back into the hands of the people. While Bitcoin has become a household name over the last decade, the creator remains a mystery. Let's take a deeper dive into one of the biggest mysteries of the modern world.
The Bitcoin Solution
Before we plunge into the mysteries of the anonymous entity behind this century's greatest invention, let us first highlight the revolutionary product that is Bitcoin. The electronic cash system was first introduced to the world in late 2008 by a certain Satoshi Nakamoto.
The character seemingly came from the abyss and presented to the world a solution to the global financial crisis that caused widespread destruction. This solution was in the form of a digital currency and used blockchain technology to facilitate, maintain and operate the network.
Nakamoto did not invent blockchain technology, instead, he improved on several issues like the double-spending problem. The technology was originally created to facilitate file sharing although was hindered by that issue. Today, blockchain technology has a wide range of use cases and is being implemented into industries around the world, far beyond just the crypto and financial fields.
Bitcoin remains the biggest cryptocurrency to this day, with over 17,500 alternative cryptocurrencies and counting. At the time of writing the industry is worth just under $2 trillion, although it reached highs of $2.968 trillion in November 2021. No asset in the history of the world has gone on to achieve such success in such a short space of time.
What We Know About Satoshi Nakamoto
While we know the name Satoshi Nakamoto, it remains to be known who is behind the pseudonym. This person or entity released the Bitcoin whitepaper in October 2008 to a group of cryptographers and shortly afterwards created the BitcoinTalk forum and Bitcoin.org website.
Two months later, the first block on the Bitcoin network was mined, known as the Genesis block, with the caption "The Times 03/Jan/2009 Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks." It was mined that same day.
Stephan Thomas, a BitcoinTalk Forum member, mapped out when Nakamoto posted on forums to get an indication of what time zone he might live in. The results showed that he was least active during 6h00 to 11h00 GMT, suggesting that should he sleep at night (not a given for developers) that would place him in a time zone somewhere between GMT -5 to GMT -7, somewhere in the Americas.
During 2010, Nakamoto was an active member of the Bitcoin community. He worked on building Bitcoin's protocol and often collaborated and communicated with other developers. Then, towards the end of the year, he strangely handed over the keys and codes to another active developer, Gavin Andresen, and transferred the domains he had created to other members of the community. By the end of the year, he seemed to have cut ties with the project.
Before all but vanishing, the last trace of communication we know of from Satoshi Nakamoto was a message to Mike Hearn, another developer, on 23 April 2011, that read: "I've moved on to other things. It's in good hands with Gavin and everyone." And just as abruptly as Bitcoin had entered the world, Nakamoto left it.
Who Could Be Behind The Anonymous Entity?
While many people have been suspected of being Satoshi Nakamoto, there is yet to be enough evidence to convince anyone else. Over the years, many journalists have tried to lift the veil, and again, to no avail. For over a decade the world has been left wondering who is behind the anonymous name, and why would they not come forward?
The biggest contenders for the mystery person have been Hal Finney, Nick Szabo, and Dave Kleiman, who have all denied this. One man, Craig Wright, has come forward to claim to be Satoshi Nakamoto, however, the industry remains unconvinced.
Hal Finney is a computer scientist who had previously tried to create a digital cash system. Finney is noted as being one of the earliest people interested in Bitcoin, with the first transaction taking place between Satoshi Nakamoto's wallet and Finney's.
Finney also lived in the same town as Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto, a Japanese man who was hunted by the media when they assumed they had found the "real" identity. Finney passed away in August 2014.
Nick Szabo is also credited with having tried to create a digital cash system prior to Bitcoin's launch, releasing BitGold in 1998. He also coined the name "smart contracts". The cryptographer and computer scientist was listed as the most likely person to be Satoshi Nakamoto following a study done in 2014 by a group of students and researchers at Aston University who conducted a thorough linguistics analysis on all previous communication.
Dave Kleiman was a computer forensics expert whose name has come up plenty of times, largely thanks to Craig Wright. Kleiman's estate sued Wright over claims that they had invented Bitcoin together and had access to a large, shared amount of BTC. He died broke and in squalor in 2013.
The Australian computer scientist and businessman has gone to great lengths to claim to be Satoshi Nakamoto, however, has provided little to no evidence. These claims have been unequivocally disregarded by the Bitcoin community.
The Mystery Remains Unsolved
Perhaps the biggest irony of all is that while the technology is entirely trustless and operates with the work of thousands of nodes who don't know each other. All we know is that whoever it was/they are, they revolutionized the world as we know it and have left us with some sort of extraordinary.