How do we not know who Satoshi Nakamoto is?

The identity of bitcoin’s inventor remains elusive, even on today’s internet.

There are no secrets online — except the identity of the person who developed bitcoin.

Satoshi Nakamoto

In October 2008, a paper by “Satoshi Nakamoto” was published online proposing “a purely peer-to-peer version of electronic cash” that would bypass financial institutions.

The byline has been an internet legend for nearly 15 years now, because, well, who is that? Somehow, we still don’t know.

More fakeouts than a bad horror movie

Ever since this person (or people?) invented the source code behind bitcoin, sleuths have continually tried to make a positive ID. Per Markets Insider, they’ve all been thwarted.

  • A 2014 Newsweek article looked into physicist Dorian Prentice Satoshi Nakamoto, but he denied involvement.
  • A 2015 New York Times article pointed to computer scientist Nick Szabo. Szabo also denied it.
  • In 2016, researcher Craig Steven Wright said he worked with computer scientist Dave Kleiman to invent bitcoin — only to have prominent crypto experts tear those claims down.
  • Internet theories tying Nakamoto to Steve Jobs and Elon Musk have similarly been debunked.

Whoever they are, they’re rich

Crypto wallets associated with the name are estimated to hold 1m+ bitcoin tokens. At the currency’s 2021 peak, that haul would’ve been worth ~$70B.

That fortune hasn’t been traced to anyone, and there are otherwise very few clues to follow, per Forbes:

  • Time stamps on Nakamoto’s old posts and emails led people to assume they primarily lived in the UK or the US.
  • They “favour” British spellings, which doesn’t mean a whole lot.
  • Their last email was sent in April 2011 and suggested they’d “moved onto other things.”

For now, the most solid things we’re left with: a blown mind — and a legacy. The “satoshi” remains bitcoin’s smallest denomination, with 100m satoshis equaling one bitcoin.

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