Satoshi Nakamoto: Who is Bitcoin’s Mysterious Creator & Whitepaper Author?
More Than Just a Name: Who or What Is Satoshi Nakamoto? The Facts That We Have
There are mysteries that we all have to deal with from personal to international. One of the mysteries that still hounds the cryptocurrency world is the one that surrounds one particular name: Satoshi Nakamoto, the illustrious and yet unknown figure that stood behind the creation and introduction of Bitcoin.
While the true face of Nakamoto, among other things, remain a mystery, we will be using these articles as a way to piece together all that we do know about them. From everything they had previously written, to who the media believed was the ‘true' Nakamoto and whether there are still people out there who once previously bore the mantel.
- 1 More Than Just a Name: Who or What Is Satoshi Nakamoto? The Facts That We Have
- 2 What Satoshi Nakamoto Has Written and What We Know
- 3 The List of Potential ‘Candidates' Is Large, Famous and Unusual
- 4 Satoshi Nakamoto Interesting and ‘Out-There' Theories
We may never fully know who Satoshi Nakamoto is, but with this series, we hope to, at the very least, shrink down the number of people who could resemble the illustrious figure.
What Satoshi Nakamoto Has Written and What We Know
Whatever could be construed as a public record of Satoshi Nakamoto can be easily condensed into a span of fewer than two years. While a brief ‘legacy' the amount of buzz surrounding these records have kept forums, social media pages and financial experts ensconced in the possible answer to the question.
Not only would it be one of the internets biggest mysteries being solved, but whoever rightfully claimed to be Nakamoto would gain immediate legendary status for their involvement in the development of blockchain, the technology which is (and continues to) revolutionize the world as we know it.
Not only is there a legend to claim, but a fortune as well; one that is believed to total nearly 1 million Bitcoin. This means, by today's valuation of Bitcoin, would mean an ‘inheritance' of over 8 Billion dollars, not accounting for future fluctuation, however.
One of the most comprehensive profiles we have for Nakamoto comes from their P2P foundation page, Satoshi Nakamoto is (or was) a 43-year-old male originating from Japan. This suggests that he is most active during the Japanese time cycle, but upon studying their posting behavior, it implies that they follow the GMT cycle due a habit of disappearing from 5am-11am yet being active during the earlier to late afternoon.
While that isn't evidence enough to suggest that while Nakamoto wasn't in Japan, but could mean that they had a highly unusual sleep pattern.
Satoshi, from their philosophy, was a firm advocate for economic or social Libertarianism specific to the world of technology. This viewpoint can be construed as ‘Crypto-Anarchism', decentralizing the world of commerce, handing the power in the world of personal finance back to the individual consumer.
In the announcement and release of the ‘Genesis block‘, otherwise known as ‘Block 1' or 0, included a hidden message within its Coinbase parameter giving the headline for the news from the 3rd January 2009:
“the Times 03/Jan/2009 Chancellor on brink of the second bailout for banks”
While the use of the newspaper headline may simply function as a time-stamp for the interest of posterity with the release of the first Bitcoin block. Many crypto-enthusiasts and anarchists alike have, however, interpreted the headline as a stab against centralized financial institutions for their part in the unfurling global financial crisis and subsequent recession.
One of the other stabs that this message demonstrates, according to Nakamoto supporters, is in creating an inbuilt scarcity for Bitcoin, while governments and financial institutions are able to print a seemingly infinite volume of money at their own discretion, creating devaluation with users being powerless to do anything about it.
While Nakamoto has been personally responsible for mining and possessing nearly a million Bitcoin, ‘he' only ever completed one transaction simply to demonstrate that a cryptocurrency could, and does, work.
Apart from that, Nakamoto never moved his Bitcoin from his initial mining address, but there are a number of reasons for why he would have instigated this action.
- By moving them to another address, it would result in his identity being revealed, due to the fact the Bitcoin, while giving a certain amount of anonymity, wasn't fully anonymous.
- He was using addresses not associated directly with the existing stockpiles of Bitcoin he had accrued.
- The impact of moving a high volume of Bitcoin to another, undisclosed location could've ended the creation of Bitcoin before it ever began.
- He may be under some sort of contractual obligation which prevents him from interacting, selling or trading these stockpiles in any way.
- It may also have been possible that the Nakamoto we believe to know died or lost access to these vast reserves for one reason or another.
Satoshi Nakamoto's Activities
How is it we can theorize that these are the plausible scenarios as to Nakamoto's activities? Because a number of the texts of which he drafted and wrote give these very distinct impressions:
November 1st, 2008 –
At this point in time, Satoshi announced through a Cryptography mailing list that “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System,” his officially white paper detailing the idea and function of Bitcoin, was formally published on Bitcoin.com.
February 11th, 2009 –
Satoshi makes his first public post on the website ‘P2P Foundation: The Foundation for Peer to Peer Alternatives'. This post consisted of a link to his recently published White Paper, including some additional insight into the paper and his reasoning for developing it.
Across this span of time when he's active on the site, he created three posts, with the last taking place on February 14th, 2009. The same account was used in March 2014, with the post including the statement that the user is not Dorian Nakamoto after being falsely outed as Satoshi Nakamoto days earlier.
November 22nd, 2009 –
This consisted of the official, inaugural post on the website ‘Bitcointalk.org.' This would include a series of over 575 posts across 13 months, other contributors apart from Nakamoto consist ofMike Hearn and Jeff Garzik.
These contributors were effective in laying down the groundwork for what Bitcoin was to become. By December 12th, 2010, Nakamoto has effectively stopped operating on the site, for what reasons remains unknown.
This post is the last time that Nakamoto officially addressed the public within the forum, linking to the latest version of the Bitcoin, wallet client. Nine years on and the forum is one of the largest, most reputable forums of cryptocurrency discussion, with over 2 million users and hundreds of millions of post views.
One of the last posts from Nakamoto included the desire that Wikileaks which, at the time, had been vehemently opposed by the US governments, including banks which refused to work with them regarding providing funding.
Nakamoto stated that Bitcoin shouldn't be used as a means of supporting the site, citing its ‘infancy' and fragility as some of the reasons why it is not best-suited for supporting Wikileaks.
Despite his urging against providing this support, it went on to be used, resulting in Wikileaks removing the page and description for Bitcoin. The reason for this post was to prevent Bitcoin from snuffed out by drawing too much negative press, especially in being linked to an institution which had just recently made some incredibly powerful enemies.
So who could this person be? We can get an understanding of Nakamoto's personality from one of his email addresses when messages to and from the account were made.
His account, Satoshin@gmx.com was reportedly hacked in 2014, with one of the email exchanges being between Nakamoto and the financial expert, Wei Dai, regarding obtaining proper accreditation for the ideas of his that were used in the development of Bitcoin.
The second was to Laszlo Hanyecz, the cryptocurrency developer that is famously known for the ‘10,000 Bitcoin for 2 Pizzas' challenge, which has gained a historical emphasis for being the first monetary transaction using Bitcoin.
When approached on what the exchanges between himself and Nakamoto were like, Hanyecz described them as ‘Weird,' describing him as a ‘bossy' figure who expected him to be an active contributor despite the fact that his tenure working on Bitcoin was predominantly unpaid.
Above all, Nakamoto, according to Hanyecz, tended to strongly deflect any questions about himself as a person while also demanding that the underlying code remain untampered with.
One of Bitcoins developers early on was Mike Hearn, who offered a very unique insight into what it was like to work alongside Nakamoto during the early days of the project. In one of the interactions between Nakamoto and Hearn, the latter made the email exchanges public online. The last of which was posted on April 23rd, 2011 contained the following:
“I’ve moved on to other things. It’s in good hands with Gavin (Andresen) and everyone.”
One of the final email exchanges including Nakamoto was between himself and Gavin Anderson, in which Anderson attempted to find out more about his utterly online colleague. The reply he got was laconic, direct and inciteful:
“I wish you wouldn’t keep talking about me as a mysterious shadowy figure, the press just turns that into a pirate currency angle. Maybe instead make it about the open source project and give more credit to your dev contributors; it helps motivate them.”
The final email that Anderson sent to Nakamoto consisted of detailing an invitation to speak at an event that had direct connections with the Central Intelligence Agency. With the lack of response from Nakamoto, it could be construed that he had become, somewhat reasonably, freaked out by the sudden, meteoric rise to popularity the Bitcoin enjoyed.
The List of Potential ‘Candidates' Is Large, Famous and Unusual
Satoshi Nakamoto is one of the phantom names in the worlds of the internet and cryptocurrency that consists of a legendary status, a groundbreaking innovation and, while accompanied with a literal throne of $8 billion, the actual individual behind ‘Satoshi Nakamoto' remains elusive.
In this article, we put together a list of potential suspects with the profile, intelligence, or character that make them the possible man behind the mask.
While these are claims, they are unsubstantiated and theoretical, the only way to truly KNOW who Satoshi Nakamoto is through verifying their wallet address which would link the individual to the man himself.
From 2009 to 2010, Satoshi Nakamoto was directly involved in the development, coding, design, and release of what we and millions of members of the general public now know as ‘Bitcoin'. During this same stretch of time, Nakamoto was also involved in mining a large quantity of the coins during a time that only a select number of people were involved in mining.
The only way one could prove without a shadow of a doubt that they were Nakamoto, they would simply need to complete one or a number of transactions between the accounts that the original Nakamoto used during this time.
While this has yet to happen, a great number of internet researchers, financial experts, and genuinely curious individuals have yet to cease in piecing together ideas and theorizing as to who the real Satoshi Nakamoto was and is.
So who on earth do some of these researchers believe is the real Satoshi Nakamoto? We piece together the names of those people believe are linked to the man, from the interesting to the downright unusual.
Satoshi Suspects – Michael Clear
For anyone to be considered as Satoshi Nakamoto, it requires that person to have a clear understanding of computer programming, especially from the aspect of cryptocurrency development, these consist of:
- computer science (specifically the C++ programming language)
- peer-to-peer networking
By these criteria, the number of people that may be Nakamoto thins out significantly especially considering the balance, intellectually, which would need to be struck between the deeper knowledge of economics, cryptography and computer programming in general.
One of the potential candidates for being Nakamoto was the former graduate student, cryptography enthusiast but had also been involved in some level of C++ Programming since he was 10, Michael Clear.
While all of the dominoes were in place, making Clear a shoe-in for being the real Satoshi Nakamoto, when asked the question during an interview, Clear explicitly stated that he was not Nakamoto.
“I’m not Satoshi, but even if I was I wouldn’t tell you.”
While Clear, at the time, was startled by the question which to him came out of left field. He believed it to be conclusive enough to not realise any further questions, this turned out to not be the case, as he would encounter incessant questions on whether he was, in fact, Nakamoto and just wanted to protect his anonymity.
It got to the point where, in 2013, after two years of questions pertaining to Bitcoin and Nakamoto, that he published a blog post, explicitly denying any links to Bitcoin and being Nakamoto.
“Josh originally contacted me at Crypto 2011 about a paper I was involved with related to p2p, and I met up with him out of curiosity as to why he would be interested. For about 20 minutes we talked about that.”
“When bitcoin came up, I remember we had a brief casual chat; I was naturally startled when he thought I could be Satoshi, and there was some humor and regrettable mistakes on my part.”
Nick Szabo, a Hungarian-American computer scientist was theorized to be a potential candidate for Satoshi Nakamoto for a number of reasons. During late 2013, the slow collapse of MtGOX led researchers to look at Szabo as a potential candidate for being Nakamoto.
‘Like in a Mirror', an anonymous blog post, listed out the reasons why Nick Szabo could be Satoshi Nakamoto. Across the two blog posts, the author lists the reasons why Szabo would be the founder of Bitcoin.
One of the reasons why this blog post, and Szabo by extension, gained so much credibility as being Nakamoto was due to the arguments provided by Like in a Mirror, but also due to Szabo's own involvement with the distant cousin to Bitcoin, ‘Bit Gold'.
While Bit Gold presented a very interesting concept when initially proposed in 1998, it never really gained traction with which to enter wider development and implementation. However, Bit Gold did, in fact, contain a significant number of features which made Bitcoin possible as a system of peer-to-peer transaction.
These include a method of Decentralisation, the ‘Proof of Work' system, and the implementation of ‘Time Stamp Servers' including proper network security mechanisms to provide an additional layer of security and validation behind each transaction.
The blog post continued on to provide an additional number of reasons why Szabo could be Satoshi Nakamoto:
- Szabo’s requests for help in his personal research with the development of bit gold trailed off after the announcement of bitcoin,
- the bitcoin whitepaper, though heavily influenced by Szabo, does not give credit to him for any of his ideas that were incorporated into bitcoin,
- the times of Satoshi’s posts more or less align with the EST time zone, which is that of Szabo’s residence.
While the blog series provides a significant amount of research and a well thought out argument, Szabo himself categorically denies being Satoshi Nakamoto.
Not Satoshi, but thank you.
— Nick Szabo 🔑 (@NickSzabo4) May 11, 2018
While denying being Satoshi Nakamoto, Szabo is a regular writer on the subjects of programming, Cryptography and the uses of Bitcoin on his personal blog. Along with this, Szabo is also a prolific and frequent speaker / lecturer on the subject of Bitcoin and the state of play for it and other cryptocurrencies.
Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto
One of the more famous potential Satoshis was Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto, who shares a significant number of unique correlations with the original Satoshi Nakamoto, the name being just one of them.
Dorian Nakamoto, originally a resident of Japan, went on to attend college in California, studying and graduating with a degree in Physics. The correlation comes from Dorian's own experiences working with several different employees, these consist of Citibank and the U.S. Government as just a couple of the examples.
As an engineer, a great degree of his work is under both legal and personal secrecy. An article, which labeled Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto as the developer of Bitcoin was based off an initial, off the cuff comment made by himself, in which he stated that he was ‘no longer involved' with the Bitcoin project.
While this confirmed to the reporter who he was, Dorian points out that there was a significant degree of misunderstanding on his part, believing that it was a question regarding his work with Citibank.
Five days after the ‘interview', Newsweek read out a letter sent to them by Dorian, lamenting the challenges he's faced as a result of the false accusations of being Nakamoto.
“I did not create, invent or otherwise work on Bitcoin. I unconditionally deny the Newsweek report… The first time I heard the term “bitcoin” was from my son in mid-February 2014. After being contacted by a reporter, my son called me and used the word, which I had never before heard. Shortly thereafter, the reporter confronted me at my home.
I have no knowledge of nor have I ever worked on cryptography, peer to peer systems, or alternative currencies… My prospects for gainful employment has been harmed because of Newsweek’s article…
Newsweek’s false report has been the source of a great deal of confusion and stress for myself, my 93-year old mother, my siblings, and their families… This will be our last public statement on this matter. I ask that you now respect our privacy.”
Making a start to his career as a programmer with Atari working on video game design, Hal Finney has since become an individual considered by many to be the real Satoshi Nakamoto.
Ever since starting off on his career of computer programming, Finney became significantly interested and involved in the field of Cryptography, being on of the early joiners of the mailing list and social group, Cyberpunks.
One of the other organizations that Finney was involved in was Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) since its establishment in 1991. What tipped people off to his potential was his development of PGP 2.0, a system which incorporates features such as file encryption and authentication, as well as encrypted communications.
These features made PGP 2.0 the first truly secure version of the program, all based on the handy work of Hal Finney. Effectively, Finney had created the system we have come to know as peer-to-peer networking before there was even a name for it.
One of the reasons that Finney became heavily involved in Cryptography was due to being inspired by the developer David Chaum, a fellow Californian who wished to apply Cryptography to the world of online finance, specifically when addressing online transactions and finance management.
During his time at the University of California, Chaum had created one of the first systems of peer-to-peer transactions, called Ecash, which had some of the features we see in Bitcoin, but was tethered to the ongoing value of the US Dollar and never really gained significant traction.
Finney set about to expand upon what Ecash had attempted to be, adding a proof of work concept to the currency which was reusable back in 2004. This feature among others would be those applied in order to create Bitcoin in 2008.
Finney was a keen member of a number of cryptography forums and mailing lists, being one of the first users of the client software which Nakamoto had released. Within days of releasing this software, Finney made history by being the recipient of one of Bitcoins first transactions, in which he received 10 Bitcoin from Nakamoto.
Regrettably, Finney was later diagnosed with ALS, otherwise known as Lou Gehrig's disease, from which he died in 2014. Until then, Finney continued to be an active participant in conversations regarding cryptocurrency, using his final post to recap on all of his personal experiences interacting with Nakamoto.
“When Satoshi announced the first release of the software, I grabbed it right away. I think I was the first person besides Satoshi to run bitcoin. I mined block 70-something, and I was the recipient of the first bitcoin transaction when Satoshi sent ten coins to me as a test. I carried on an email conversation with Satoshi over the next few days, mostly me reporting bugs and him fixing them.
Today, Satoshi’s true identity has become a mystery. But at the time, I thought I was dealing with a young man of Japanese ancestry who was very smart and sincere. I’ve had the good fortune to know many brilliant people over the course of my life, so I recognize the signs.”
During the final year of his life, Finney was subjected to an unfortunate extortion attempt against him, in which he was ordered by the anonymous hacker to complete a transaction of 1,000 Bitcoin (Worth $400,000 at the time) or they would release sensitive personal information about Finney to the public.
Over the years, Finney's family would face constant extortion attempts, all of which amounted to no payout simply because Finney was not Nakamoto and that any Bitcoin Finney had extracted and collected over the years were used up in order to pay for his burdensome medical expenses.
Dr. Craig Steven Wright
Unfortunately, Craig Steven Wright is one of the more infamous individuals to be on the list of potential Satoshi Nakamoto's. The Australian computer scientist and businessman had led media outlets on an obscure hunt for after he came forward to a number of news broadcasters that he was the real Satoshi Nakamoto back in 2015.
In the past, Wright had been involved in the creation of the worlds first online casinos, including a Bitcoin-based bank which never completely materialized. This was due to a number of issues surrounding obtaining regulatory approval in order to do this, something that cryptocurrencies still face on a regular basis.
What does separate Wright from other individuals on this list is that he offered up Cryptographic proof that he was, in fact, Nakamoto, claiming to have access to the keys that he used in order to extract and complete some of the first Bitcoin transactions.
According to his interview with BBC, Wright claimed that he would provide this evidence as “extraordinary proof for an extraordinary claim.” Signing a message using a key known to be used by Satoshi Nakamoto.
To provide an extra level of credibility, Wright flew in the Bitcoin developer Gavin Anderson to oversee the event and confirm Wrights identity. Andreeson felt satisfied with the evidence that he'd seen from Wright, believing him to be the real Satoshi Nakamoto.
While Andreeson was satisfied with the evidence he was shown, not everyone was buying the Wright was the real Nakamoto. One individual who was highly skeptical of Wright's claim was the computer security expert, Dan Kaminsky, who traced the signature that Wright used to an original provided by Nakamoto in 2009, which was part of an exhibition displaying that Bitcoin's system worked.
This was subsequently validated by Mike Hearn, Peter Todd and Jeff Garzik, who went on to label Craig Wright's action a ‘Scam'. Peter Todd then went on to roundly criticise Wright:
“It would be like if I was trying to prove that I was George Washington and to do that provided a photocopy of the constitution and said, look, I have George Washington’s signature.”
Wright has since backed away from his initial claim of being Satoshi Nakamoto, but never went on to openly admit that it was a scam, or that he had done anything fraudulent in ‘providing' his extraordinary evidence.
Before taking down his ‘evidence' including his site and blog, Wright published one last message:
“I believed that I could do this. I believed that I could put the years of anonymity and hiding behind me. But, as the events of this week unfolded and I prepared to publish the proof of access to the earliest keys, I broke.
I do not have the courage. I cannot. When the rumours began, my qualifications and character were attacked. When those allegations were proven false, new allegations have already begun. I know now that I am not strong enough for this. I know that this weakness will cause great damage to those that have supported me, and particularly to Jon Matonis and Gavin Andresen.
I can only hope that their honour and credibility is not irreparably tainted by my actions. They were not deceived, but I know that the world will never believe that now. I can only say I’m sorry. And goodbye.”
‘Out There' Nakamoto Candidates:
Elon Musk – multi-billionaire founder of Tesla and SpaceX
John Nash – American mathematician and Nobel Prize winner, his life story is the basis for the movie A Beautify Mind
Wei Dai – early cryptographer once contacted by Satoshi, developer of the digital currency b-money
Shinichi Mochizuki – Japanese mathematician who works with number theory and geometry
Neal King – software engineer listed on a patent containing a term oft used by Satoshi, “computationally impractical to reverse.”
Satoshi Nakamoto Interesting and ‘Out-There' Theories
In previous parts, we had re-capped over the information that we have on the now mysteriously famous individual we know as Satoshi Nakamoto, from the details left on the accounts with which he registered, to the first and last comments he's made in a public and private manner. That would be Part One for anyone curious enough to recap.
We've also laid out the evidence linking particular individuals, or in some cases, individuals linking themselves to evidence, to the legend, and veritable treasure trove of Satoshi Nakamoto in Part Two.
In this segment, we go over the possible individuals who, by some ‘out there' thinking, or for some interesting correlations, may be linked to, or may actually be the man who invented Bitcoin.
While this information is all laid out for individuals to take away from it what they may, we may never truly know who Satoshi Nakamoto truly was. But it can be agreed among us that what's important is not who he is (or was), but what he brought forward and into the realm of our thinking, the ability to slay the metaphorical dragons of centralization.
Satoshi Nakamoto Theories?
Satoshi as a Collective?
Now while the idea that Satoshi Nakamoto is, not essentially one person, but instead a collective of people working on Bitcoin together. This isn't really a new theory, and there is a cacophony of evidence which goes about substantiating this claim. With the publication of the White paper, the emails and forum comments, they give the impression that there was certainly a diversity of personality coming from the person (or persons) writing them.
One of the more prominent examples of this is in December 2017, an article was written which conducted a stylistic analysis of Satoshi's white paper and various emails concluded that they may have in fact consisted of a number of authors. It was believed that these authors consisted of Nick Szabo, Ian Grigg and Wei Dai as possible suspects.
One theory that coincides with this broader belief is that Satoshi Nakamoto is, in fact, not a real persons name at all, but a combination of various names of those actually involved with the project.
Satoshi Nakamoto – Finding the right Combination
Upon immediate analysis, the name can be directly associated with a various number of companies.
- Satoshi – Samsung & Toshiba
- Nakamoto – Nakamichi & Motorola
Now while the combination sounds interesting and may intrigue people, but what on earth is the significance of all of this? All evidence of this being more than just coincidence is not readily apparent, however. It's also been suggested that Satoshi was, in fact, not an individual or a group of programmers, but a consortium of various companies.
This organization acted in order to create Bitcoin and bring it forward to the consumer population. But the evidence of this as well is not immediately discernable, it makes a certain degree of sense.
Satoshi as an Anagram?
An anagram is an amalgamation of various words to make another functioning word, and a theory has been circulating that Satoshi Nakamoto is, in fact, also an anagram. Where this theory hits a snag is that both Satoshi and Nakamoto are both pretty common names in the Japanese lexicon.
One of the more recurring anagrams that surfaces when concerning this theory (non-ridiculous) is ‘I am NSA, Took oaths'. This is one of the only anagrams that actually creates a cohesive series of words.
One of the theoretical anagrams that does come up, which is far less likely and more ludicrous, is ‘O, as Satan took him'. But this is where the theory hits serious roadblocks as a reasonable, coherent theory, and diverts more to the direction of conspiracy theories.
Satoshi as Symbolic
While both Satoshi and Nakamoto are common names used in Japan, there are a number of relatively loose translations of both from Japanese to English. One of the more common examples of this translation is ‘Central Intelligence', but it can also mean phrases like ‘clear thinking', ‘Quick witted' and ‘wise'.
Even Nakamoto can take on the meanings such as ‘Central Origin', or ‘one who lives in the middle'. One of the aspects of Japanese names is that the first and last names are reversed, this means that the name can be translated to ‘Central Intelligence' which may be a reference to the United States' Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
But Satoshi Nakamoto may also translate to ‘Out of the Ashes', which may be an even looser reference to ‘Centralization out of the ashes'.
Satoshi – Connected to the NSA?
One of the other theories that does emerge from the theories circulating around Satoshi Nakamoto is that the US government may be, in some way, involved with the construction of parts, or all, of Bitcoin from the beginning.
This points to the government involvement points to one of the features of Bitcoin, more specifically, the crypto's Cryptographic Motor referred to as the Secure Hash Algorithm, an invention of the National Security Agency (NSA), one of the most well funded government bureaucracies within the US.
They're also known for inducting and hiring the ‘best and brightest' minds in terms of technology, programming, coding, etc such as Edward Snowden. Bitcoin's implementation of the SHA, while more of a specific and more sophisticated version of it, is still rooted in the initial invention by the NSA. The difference between the two can be outlined in this way:
“The Secure Hash Algorithm (SHA) was developed by the NIST in association with the NSA and first published in May 1993 as the Secure Hash Standard. The first revision to this algorithm was published in 1995 due to a unpublished flaw found, and was called SHA-1. The first version, later dubbed SHA-0, was withdrawn by the NSA. The SHA hash function is similar to the MD4 hash function, but adds some complexity to the algorithm and the block size used was changed. SHA was originally intended as part of the Digital Signature Standard (DSS), a scheme used for signing data and needed a hash function to do so.
In addition to the SHA-1 hash, the NIST also published a set of more complex hash functions for which the output ranges from 224 bit to 512 bit. These hash algorithms, called SHA-224, SHA-256, SHA-384 and SHA-512 (sometimes referred to as SHA-2) are more complex because of the added non-linear functions to the compression function. As of January 2008, there are no attacks known better than a brute force attack. Nonetheless, since the design still shows significant similarity with the SHA-1 hash algorithms, it is not unlikely that these will be found in the (near) future.”
With this invention in mind, and the fact that the National Security Agency has a readily available pool of highly skilled individuals means that Bitcoin would certainly be a potential invention by it as an organization. Now, while the resources and means to create it do exist, why exactly would they do that?
One reason could be that they wanted to develop a system of currency that would serve criminals in the acts of trafficking, money laundering, etc. This would serve the NSA as it would serve as an incorruptible ledger, inevitably leaving another paper trail for the agency to follow and capture criminals as a result.
The underlying knowledge that the Bitcoin community has when it comes to blockchain forensics is relatively interesting. Blockchain Forensics refers to a modern science which pulls together aspects such as analysing the movement of Bitcoin from one blockchain to others, combining it with its movements through various coin exchanges, banks and other financial bodies. This essentially means that the notion that Bitcoin is intrinsically an anonymous cryptocurrency has been eschewed.
In order to trace the movements and origin of Bitcoins owner and its eventual owner which may both be under suspicion of being illegal, all a company would need to do is hire a blockchain analysis expert to trace these movements. From there, the expert can subpoena the relevant coin exchange, bank of financial institution in order to extract more information on the activity.
Used in this style, Bitcoin turns from the worst enemy of centralization, to one of its most powerful assets in the fights against international terrorism, including drug and people trafficking.
The NSA theory also picks up steam when you look at the concept that an individual was directly behind the creation of Bitcoin. Who else may have the resources and manpower needed in order to create something as intellectually and financially behemoth as Bitcoin?
Satoshi as James Harris Simons
James Harris Simons enjoys a luscious reputation, one of which The Financial Times gave him in 2006 as ‘The World's Smartest Billionaire'. James Harris Simons is an 80-year old mathematician and ex-hedge fund manager and has a total net worth of over $20 billion. This amount also grew enormously with the development of Bitcoin throughout the years.
Simons has been a name that continually springs up, having its origins in the rise of modern computing and the internet. Taking into consideration his intelligence, approach towards personal computing, he possesses the kind of mind that would be more interested in stockpiling Bitcoin as opposed to moving it around.
Simons retired from his position as CEO of the Hedge Fund management company Rennaissance Technologies back in 2010, which is responsible for managing up to $50 billion in investor funds, leaving with more than double what he had in 2006.
Unlike other hedge fund management companies, Rennaissance was known as an analytics firm as well as a hedge fund manager. As a result, along with a team of financial minds, it boasted, and continues to boast a team of mathematicians, and data scientists, applying algorithmic theories to the movement of stock and asset values.
This approach has made certain products like Rennaissance's Medallion Fund, a black-box investment strategy, famous even while only being available to employees and its owners. Between the best and worst years for people invested in it, the Medallion fund can see returns on investment as ‘bad' as 20% or as good as 80%.
Before earning these billions, James Harris Simons worked for the NSA back in 1964, working with them to break codes, using his specific gifts as a mathematician to break codes, contributing in his own way to identifying key trends during the Vietnam war. In 1980, he began his illustrious career as a mathematician, while making his foray into the world of finance, which earned him a dazzling reputation of being able to go about “making money out of nothing.”
Between being a renowned cipher decoder, genius mathematician and plugged in to the trends and movements within the financial world, James Harris Simons has all of the resources both materially and intellectually in order to create something as game changing as Bitcoin. With his capabilities, he'd also be able to assemble a veritable team of cryptographic ‘Avengers' in order to put it together.
Satoshi Nakamoto as Adam Back
Before there was Bitcoin, even as an idea, there was an older, lesser known version of it brought into theory. This one was called ‘HashCash', which was proposed back in 1997 by the British Cryptographer, Adam Back, who worked as a post-doctoral researcher at the time of the release of HashCash, and was, like Finney and Wei, part of the growing Cyberpunk community.
The Cyberpunk movement was a trending movement of individuals who opposed the encroaching powers of a centralized government over the people they support, both in a real and a virtual sense.
Five years after the HashCash was proposed, its White Paper was published in 2002, what this paper boasted of was a system which would strike many Bitcoin supporters as scarily coincidental as it utilised a ‘Proof of Work' (like) concept to its functionality. Much like Nakamoto, Back believed that this concept allowed HashCash to operate as a form of virtual currency, in keeping with the similar approach that David Chaum had with DigiCash.
In essence, a certain amount of computational effort was required in order for a sender to send an email to users who employed the hashcash system. The computational power needed in order to prevent the submission of spam emails were enough from HashCash to prove successful in this regard.
For a number of years after the development of Bitcoin in 2009, Back had a significant hand in the ongoing development of the Bitcoin Core client, which is the main Bitcoin wallet used by Nakamoto from the outset.
Back also founded the company, BlockStream back in 2014, which has since hired a number of developers that worked on the Bitcoin Core client system. They were particularly active with the advent of the Bitcoin hard fork, Bitcoin Cash in 2017. Individuals have since argued that the hiring of Bitcoin Core developers means that Blockstream would have too much power over the future of Bitcoin.
While this is a legitimate concern made by the Bitcoin community, BlockStream has remained on the relative periphery of developments pertaining to Bitcoin. This is made increasingly substantial in the aftermath of research concluded by WhaleCalls found that only 12-20% of modifications made to the source code of Bitcoin Core originated from BlockStream.
While this volume of work is not exactly insignificant, it's a minority percentage in the grand total. Back's company still has a significant level of clout within the Bitcoin community as a whole, especially when compared to others.
While Back may not ‘be' Satoshi Nakamoto, he has the most significant level of influence in the world of Bitcoin than anyone since Nakamoto was active.