The inventor of the groundbreaking currency is thought to be an anonymous developer using the uncommon alias "Satoshi Nakamoto," who wrote its protocols in 2008.
In 2009, he created the first BTC wallet and generated the genesis block of the chain. The new currency had no material backing, and its value was calculated based on the electricity costs of mining a block. Within two years, a whole online exchange infrastructure and industry had emerged. The cryptocurrency gained major traction in the criminal world thanks to its numerous advantages, particularly its capability for anonymous transactions. It was during this period that Nakamoto, who had been actively corresponding with all kinds of crypto-enthusiasts, went silent.
When did he disappear?
Nakamoto was involved in developing the network alongside his remote team up until 2011. However, he suddenly disappeared that year for reasons unknown and has not contacted anyone since. The fact that he left everyone clueless as to the reason for his departure raises even more unanswered questions. The only cause for optimism is that, during 2010 and 2011, he repeatedly discussed his plans to move on to other projects and his intention to delegate further work on Bitcoin to other specialists.
What does the name mean?
The vast majority of industry experts and onlookers alike agree that the name “Satoshi Nakamoto” is a nom de guerre. This is supported by the fact that it can be split into the following Japanese words:
● "satoshi" - intelligence
● "naka" - connection
● "moto" - base
There is little sense in them revealing their true identity–moreover, doing so could even compromise their security, given that this person (or group) has a net worth valued at billions of dollars.
What we do know is that English is probably his first language, as all his developer's documentation is written in English. In fact, it appears that he has never publicly published anything in Japanese.
He remained active in his public correspondence until his mysterious disappearance. Some of his publications are extensively quoted by his fans. Below are the three of his most extravagant quotes:
"Lost coins only make everyone else's coins worth slightly more. Think of it as a donation to everyone."
"The Bitcoin network might actually reduce spam by diverting zombie farms to generating bitcoins instead."
"Paying a few cents to a website is as easy as dropping coins into a vending machine."
Five possible candidates
The mystery surrounding this individual has stirred up a lot of interest, with efforts to unearth his identity now in their second decade. However, attempts to perform stylometric analysis and uncover the person behind the Japanese pseudonym have all drawn a blank so far. This has spawned numerous legends and stories. Below, you'll find five possible "suspects," though these theories lack substantiation.
In winter 2013, a blogger nicknamed Skye Grey voiced his suspicions that Nakamoto is an alias of Nick Szabo, a fairly well-known professional cryptographer. Szabo had previously published a piece titled Bit Gold, which features descriptions of a currency pre-dating Bitcoin. Grey arrived at his conclusion based on stylometric analysis of indirect evidence.
Dominic Frisby, financial expert and author, also pointed to Szabo as a viable candidate and allegedly found indirect evidence linking the two. Nevertheless, there is still no direct proof.
Dorian Prentice Satoshi Nakamoto is an elderly US resident "mistakenly believed" by journalists to have played a part in creating the cryptocurrency. He denies any connection to the currency or its founder. As such, this theory falls apart in light of the evidence. What's more, the real person behind Bitcoin denied any connection to Prentice in one of his posts.
David Kleiman, who died in 2013, was a well-known crypto-enthusiast whom many believe to be the true founder of Bitcoin. His deep interest in the field and active role in developing the crypto-industry make him a prime candidate for the creator of the first wallet. However, Kleiman never commented on the rumors–though Craig Wright, his business partner, did.
Programmer Hal Finney is one of the founders of Bitcoin and is often linked to Nakamoto. Proponents of this theory have arguments to back it up–activists discovered that he used to live at an address in the same area as Dorian Prentice. Many see an obvious link here, purporting that the programmer decided to support the little-known and unsuccessful programmer by adopting his name as a pseudonym. His retirement and Nakamoto's disappearance also occurred at around the same time in 2011. Unfortunately, Hal Finney took any answers he may have had with him to the grave.
Dave Kleiman's partner claimed to be the inventor of the cryptocurrency after police raided his Sydney home, a theory supported by a number of reporters and Wright himself. The crypto-community was nevertheless skeptical of his claims, rejecting them completely when Wright refused to present any kind of direct proof such as early digital transfers.
What does McAfee know?
John McAfee is the founder of MGT Capital Investments and is regarded as somewhat flaky among financial circles. He recently stated that while Satoshi Nakamoto is a fake name adopted by multiple people, a single individual wrote the famous white paper–and he ostensibly knows who they are. McAfee has said he is planning to divulge more information about this person until they reveal themselves to the public.
So far, he has only indicated that this person is a resident of the United States. The businessman believes that the crypto-community has spent too many resources trying to figure out Nakamoto’s identity and expose impostors. To stop this, McAfee will make his hints increasingly obvious as time goes on. The rest of us will just have to wait and see.
Despite Nakamoto's seeming silence since 2011, his account balance is known to stand at around 1 million coins. At the current exchange rate, this amounts to 7 billion dollars. At its peak, though, the wallet’s value exceeded 10 billion. This presents some risks. For example, if he decided to sell off his fortune at once, it could cause a serious market crash. Fortunately, he has only spent about 500 coins–a drop in the ocean compared to the total balance of his wallet.
The story behind Nakamoto is as much a phenomenon as his pet project. Despite the openness of the crypto-community, no one has succeeded in discovering who's hiding behind the mask. No one knows whether he is alive or dead, what his age is, whether he lives in the US or elsewhere, or whether he's a well-known public figure or an unknown hermit steering clear of crowds. Whatever the truth is, we're unlikely to ever find out who created the world's most popular cryptocurrency.