On Halloween of October 2008, a paper titled ' Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System' was posted on an online cryptography mailing list under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto. The paper is a decentralised digital currency that will allow people to send currency to the world in real time, without having to go through a third-party, such as PayPal or VISA.
Bitcoin is the first currency to not be attached to a state or government - a currency without a central issuing authority or regulatory body. Its price is determined by the demand for it, by the value of it.
Notwithstanding its somewhat fairytale-like proposition, Bitcoin took a while to gain traction. It was not until 2011 that it got its first taste of substantial public recognition, when TIME and Forbes published articles on the digital currency. Nevertheless, this media coverage along with news of a New York senate hearing on the currency, faded into the shadows for years to come. 2013 then saw a spike in attention as Bitcoin passed the $ 1000 mark for the first time. This would be a drop in the ocean.
In 2017, Bitcoin passed the $ 5000, $ 10,000 and $ 15,000 marks, and got desperately close to the $ 20,000 mark, with the total crypto market capitalisation surging past $ 800 billion. It has finally reached the so-called 'tipping-point', the point where even grandmother and grocer are up for a crypto-debate (no offence to grocers or grandmothers, keep debating).
And yet, after a decade of long rollercoaster ride, the most influential organisations and people on the earth are discussing it - we are still answering the question, 'Who invented Bitcoin?' .
That may bring about a total waste of four minutes - but there is a lot more to the notion of knowing who Bitcoin's creator is more than one might think.
Firstly, here's what we do know:
- Satoshi Nakamoto is the pseudonym used by the person who published the Bitcoin white paper.
- ('Satoshi' is commonly used as a man's name in Japan, although he does not rule out the possibility of a woman or a group of people.)
- In creating Bitcoin, Satoshi also created Blockchain (although he never actually coined the term).
- Nakamoto also created the bitcointalk forum. He was an active member on the forum during Bitcoin's early days (2009 and 2010), under the name 'satoshi'.
- He used to speak English, often with British spelling, despite claiming to be in Japanese and did not resemble any Japanese practices.
- Satoshi was almost never active between 5AM and 11AM GMT, suggesting he slept at this time.
- In the Bitcoin white paper, Satoshi referenced Wei Dei's b-money, and Adam Back's Hashcash. He also sent the first Bitcoin transaction to Hal Finney. This suggests he was at least aware of the Cyperpunk movement.
- Nakamoto added Gavin Andresen's email to the bitcoin.org website (after asking Gavin's permission) and deleted his own, shortly before disappearing.
- Nakamoto's last known messages were to Martti Malmi and Gavin Andresen, where he had never been stated indefinitely. All he said was he would be moving on to other things.
Speculation as to who is Satoshi Nakamoto is rife all over the internet. Many believe hyper-secretive crypto expert, Nick Szabo to be enigmatic Nakamoto. A team of linguistic researchers even went as far as to compare Szabo and Satoshi's writings, reporting several similarities. Szabo denies in its entirety.
Other theories suggest the pseudonym might represent a group of people instead of a single individual. This argument points to three individuals, Charles Bay, Neal King and Vladimir Oksman, who had filed a patent for secure communications. They too deny the claims.
In 2015, Craig Wright, an Australian entrepreneur laid claims to being the mysterious Nakamoto, a claim he later withdrew after providing much disputed code as proof.
It is the same as the bottom line, and we have no conclusive evidence as to who is Satoshi Nakamoto.
Bitcoin does not require a founder, a leader or a central authority to function. Decentralisation is no longer a pipe-dream, it's a real thing.