Where in the world is Satoshi Nakamoto?

The original Bitcoin whitepaper was published by Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008. This whitepaper outlined the basis for cryptocurrency and blockchain technology, which have grown enormously in both value and recognition since the first Bitcoin block was mined in January 2009. Satoshi Nakamoto is thought to hold somewhere between 750,000 and 1.1 million BTC. When Bitcoin hit its peak value above $67,500 in November 2021, Nakamoto’s Bitcoin holdings would have been worth around $73 billion, making him the 15th richest man in the world. 

Despite Nakamoto’s immense wealth and huge global influence, the true identity of Bitcoin’s creator has never been revealed. Nakamoto’s Bitcoin wallets are closely watched by many observers, and the enormous funds held within them have never been moved. This has led some to speculate that the creator of Bitcoin may no longer be alive. If funds were to suddenly move from one of the Bitcoin wallets associated with Nakamoto, it would send shockwaves through the cryptocurrency space. This leads to another possibility: Nakamoto is alive, but has not accessed his immense funds in order to ensure the long-term stability of the cryptocurrency he created. 

Many names have been suggested as possible identities for Satoshi Nakamoto. Some have been put forward by investigative journalists; others have advanced their own claims to being the real Satoshi Nakamoto. With no clear answers yet uncovered, here are the leading candidates for the real identity of Bitcoin’s founder: 

Dorian Prentice Satoshi Nakamoto 

In 2014, Newsweek journalist Leah McGrath Goodman claimed to have uncovered the identity of Bitcoin’s creator. While many had supposed Satoshi Nakamoto was a pseudonym, Goodman’s research pointed to a 64-year-old Japanese-American man living in Temple, California, whose real name actually was Satoshi Nakamoto. Goodman’s evidence was not limited to a simple coincidence of names. 

Nakamoto studied physics at California State Polytechnic University. Identified by family members contacted by Goodman as a gifted mathematician and engineer, Nakamoto is said to have worked on highly classified projects for both government and corporations after graduation. Nakamoto later changed his name to Dorian Nakamoto. Goodman claims he rarely used the name Satoshi in his later life, but would often sign documents as Dorian S. Nakamoto. 

Dorian Nakamoto’s oldest daughter told Goodman that her father ran into major financial difficulties after being twice laid off in the 1990s. Nakamoto’s daughter suggested this left her father strongly opposed to both banks and government. These stances chime well with the libertarianism informing the Bitcoin whitepaper. 

Goodman’s Newsweek article proved a sensation upon publication. However, in the years since it was published, many have rejected the theory positing Dorian Prentice Satoshi Nakamoto as the creator of Bitcoin. Dorian himself denied the claims in various media interviews and a Reddit Ask Me Anything session. 

Hal Finney 

The first Bitcoin transaction saw Satoshi Nakamoto transfer 10 BTC to a wallet belonging to American developer Hal Finney. Finney first emerged as a prominent cryptographic activist in the 1990s. In 2004, Finney created a reusable proof of work mechanism. This type of mechanism would later become the basis on which Bitcoin is mined and transactions verified. 

Finney’s closeness to Satoshi Nakamoto in the early days of Bitcoin has long made him a leading candidate for investigations into Nakamoto’s true identity. In 2014, Forbes journalist Andy Greenberg discovered that Hal Finney was living a few blocks away from Dorian Prentice Satoshi Nakamoto in Temple City, California. Greenberg posited the theory that Finney had met Nakamoto and adopted his name as a pseudonym when creating Bitcoin. 

As part of the Forbes investigation into Finney’s connections with Nakamoto, writing experts were called on to analyze texts produced by Finney, Dorian Prentice Satoshi Nakamoto, and the self-identified Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto. These analyses concluded that Finney’s writing much more closely matched the eloquent and educated style of Satoshi Nakamoto in postings to Bitcoin forums and in the original Bitcoin whitepaper. 

Finney died in 2014 due to complications arising from ASL. Until his death, Finney firmly denied that he was anything more than an early contributor to Bitcoin. Greenberg interviewed Finney in his article for Forbes and concluded he was telling the truth about not being Satoshi Nakamoto. 

Craig Steven Wright 

While Hal Finney and Dorian Nakamoto both denied claims they had created Bitcoin, Australian computer scientist Craig Steven Wright has spent years fighting to prove he is the real Satoshi Nakamoto. Highlights of Wright’s long fight for recognition have included his creation of the Bitcoin Cash hard fork Bitcoin Cash Satoshi’s Vision and a copyright claim filed in 2019 for ownership of the Bitcoin whitepaper. Wright has also launched a libel action against those who deny he is Nakamoto. 

Wright was first identified as a candidate for Nakamoto’s real identity in parallel investigations conducted by tech news outlets Wired and Gizmodo in 2015. The publication of these investigations prompted Australian tax authorities to raid Wright’s home seeking evidence linking him to the creation of Bitcoin. More fuel was added to the fire in 2016 with both the BBC and The Economist finding Wright had signed emails with cryptographic keys linked to early Bitcoin blocks mined by Satoshi Nakamoto. 

High-profile figures in Bitcoin’s early development have supported Wright’s claims to having created the original cryptocurrency. These include former Bitcoin Foundation director Jon Matonis and prominent developer Gavin Andersen. 

However, others have cast doubt on Wright’s claims. These include Andy Greenberg, who previously investigated the possibility of Hal Finney being Satoshi Nakamoto for Forbes. Greenberg published a piece for Wired outlining evidence that Wright may have been involved in an elaborate hoax. Greenberg’s claims have been echoed in many subsequent news articles. 

Wright’s notoriety in the cryptocurrency world reached new heights when Bitcoin Cash Satoshi’s Vision was created in November 2018. This hard fork of the Bitcoin Cash blockchain prompted an intense and complex hash rate war between competing mining groups seeking to secure control of the Bitcoin Cash network. The chaos of the hash war caused a sharp fall in Bitcoin’s price, sending its price to a low of around $3,250 within a year of hitting highs of around $20,000. 

Nick Szabo 

Computer programmer Nick Szabo is another individual whom journalists have linked with being behind Bitcoin. In 1998, Szabo designed a digital currency named “bit gold” a full decade before the Bitcoin whitepaper was published. Szabo is also credited with coining the term “smart contracts” that would later become a key component of the Ethereum blockchain network. Just prior to the creation of Bitcoin in 2008, Szabo wrote a blog post about his intentions to create a real working version of the digital currency he had proposed with bit gold. 

Those who have identified Szabo as being Satoshi Nakamoto include blogger Skye Grey, financial author Dominic Frisby, and New York Times journalist Nathaniel Popper. Szabo responded directly to these claims in a 2014 email to Frisby, denying that he was Satoshi Nakamoto. 

Elon Musk and Other Individuals 

A wide range of other individuals have been identified as Satoshi Nakamoto. These have included many who have created online profiles claiming they are Nakamoto. Others have been identified by third parties, including Tesla CEO Elon Musk. A SpaceX intern published an article on Medium in 2017 claiming Musk may have created Bitcoin. Musk denied this in a tweet. Musk’s high-profile promotion of Dogecoin in later years would suggest there is little truth to these tenuous rumors. 

All of the Above? 

Many have arrived at the conclusion that there is no individual Satoshi Nakamoto. Instead, various theories posit a small group of individuals or even a government agency as being behind the creation of Bitcoin. Craig Steven Wright himself has claimed that Bitcoin was created in a group effort that also included Hal Finney and computer forensics expert Dave Kleiman. 

One theory that gained some prominence online suggests the name Satoshi Nakamoto is actually an acronym of the companies involved in its creation. This theory suggests that Bitcoin was created in a joint project involving South Korean and Japanese companies Samsung, Toshiba, Nakamichi, and Motorola. This theory is among the most outlandish behind Bitcoin’s creation, and there is little compelling evidence that this may be true. 

Who is Satoshi Nakamoto? 

The debate concerning the true identity of Bitcoin’s creator seems unlikely to be resolved any time soon. Journalists investigating Satoshi Nakamoto have turned up many interesting leads and shocking coincidences, but little in the way of conclusive proof. 

Decentralization has been a core principle of the Bitcoin network since its whitepaper was first published. Bitcoin’s biggest long-term supporters are therefore committed to the idea of a network without any central figurehead. The mystery surrounding Satoshi Nakamoto’s true identity serves this purpose well. If Nakamoto were unveiled and funds were to be moved from his Bitcoin wallets, it could have a catastrophic effect on confidence in the original cryptocurrency. 

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George Thomson is a Bitcoin enthusiast and all around crypto currency nerd... When he's not busy researching crypto, he likes hiking the national parks of British Columbia . He lives in an eco-friendly home with his wife Jana and their two daughters, Sandra and Rose. His favorite word is "sustainability".
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