Satoshi Nakamoto was the inventor of founder of bitcoin bitcoin protocol, publishing a paper via the Cryptography Mailing List in November 2008. He then released the first version of the bitcoin software client in 2009, and participated with others on the project via mailing lists, until he finally began to fade from the community toward the end of 2010. Nakamoto worked with people on the open-source team, but took care never to reveal anything personal about himself, and the last anyone heard from him was in the spring of 2011, when he said that he had “moved on to other things”. Best not to judge a book by its cover.
Or in fact, maybe we should. Naka” can mean “medium, inside, or relationship”. Moto” can mean “origin”, or “foundation”. Those things would all apply to the person who founded a movement by designing a clever algorithm. The problem, of course, is that each word has multiple possible meanings. We can’t know for sure whether he was Japanese or not.
In fact, it’s rather presumptuous to assume that he was actually a ‘he’. We’re just using that as a figure of speech, but allowing for the fact that this could have been a pseudonym, ‘he’ could have been a ‘she’, or even a ‘they’. No, but the detective techniques that people use when guessing are sometimes even more intriguing than the answer. The New Yorker’s Joshua Davis believed that Satoshi Nakamoto was Michael Clear, a graduate cryptography student at Dublin’s Trinity College. He arrived at this conclusion by analyzing 80,000 words of Nakamoto’s online writings, and searching for linguistic clues. He also suspected Finnish economic sociologist and former games developer Vili Lehdonvirta. Both have denied being bitcoin’s inventor.
Michael Clear publicly denied being Satoshi at the 2013 Web Summit. One of them, “computationally impractical to reverse,” turned up in a patent application made by these three for updating and distributing encryption keys. Satoshi to publish the paper had been registered three days after the patent application was filed. It was registered in Finland, and one of the patent authors had traveled there six months before the domain was registered.
Michael Clear also publicly denied being Satoshi at the 2013 Web Summit. August 18th 2008, the registrant actually used a Japanese anonymous registration service, and hosted it using a Japanese ISP. The registration for the site was only transferred to Finland on May 18th 2011, which weakens the Finland theory somewhat. Others think that it was Martii Malmi, a developer living in Finland who has been involved with bitcoin since the beginning, and developed its user interface. Gox and co-founded decentralized payment systems Ripple and later Stellar. Israeli scholars Dorit Ron and Adi Shamir of the Weizmann Institute retracted allegations made in a paper suggesting a link between Satoshi and Silk Road, the black market web site that was taken down by the FBI in October 2013. In May 2013, Internet pioneer Ted Nelson threw another hat into the ring: Japanese mathematician Professor Shinichi Mochizuki, although he admits that the evidence is circumstantial at best.
Then in early December 2015, reports by Wired and Gizmodo tentatively claimed to have identified Nakamoto as Australian entrepreneur Craig S Wright. For the most part, all of these potential Satoshi’s have insisted they are not Nakamoto. So what do we know about him? One thing we know, based on interviews with people that were involved with him at an early stage in the development of bitcoin, is that he thought the system out very thoroughly. His coding wasn’t conventional, according to core developer Jeff Garzik, in that he didn’t apply the same rigorous testing that you would expect from a classic software engineer.
No one knows what Satoshi is up to, but one of the last emails he sent to a software developer, dated April 23 2011, said “I’ve moved on to other things. It’s in good hands with Gavin and everyone. Did he work for the government? People have interpreted his name as meaning “central intelligence”, but people will see whatever they want to see. Such is the nature of conspiracy theories.