At a time when it is difficult to remain anonymous, the identity of the inventor of the cryptocurrency remains a mystery. 13 years ago, a person or group by the name of Satoshi Nakamoto published an article describing a new software system called Bitcoin.
Today, Bitcoin is worth more than $ 1 trillion and has sparked a phenomenon that its proponents believe could reshape the entire global financial network.
There is a secret at the heart of Bitcoin, however. Who is Satoshi Nakamoto really?
Satoshi Nakamoto's Brief Public Life
On October 31, 2008, Satoshi Nakamoto sent a nine-page document to a group of cryptographers describing a new form of "electronic cash" called Bitcoin.
At the time, no one cared about Nakamoto's identity. This group was skeptical of the idea of Bitcoin itself.
Cryptographers and developers like Hal Finney, Nick Szabo, David Chaum, and Wei Dai have tried to create an electronic version of cash for more than a decade. All of them failed for various reasons.
On January 9, 2009, Nakamoto launched the Bitcoin network. Mr. Finney was one of the few who was intrigued by her, and for the first few weeks, the two of them worked remotely to keep the network working.
The first bitcoin transaction came from Nakamoto. For about two years, when Bitcoin was growing slowly, Nakamoto wrote on message boards and exchanged private emails with developers.
In December 2010, Nakamoto stopped posting publicly and stopped talking to developers in 2011. Gavin Andresen, software developer.
Do we know anything about Nakamoto as a person?
Not really. In public news, and even in private news published later, Nakamoto never talked about anything personal.
Bitcoin and its code. Nakamoto uses two email addresses and a website. The identity of the person who registered them is blocked. There is no other public information.
At a time when it is difficult to remain anonymous, Nakamoto remains a ghost.
But isn't Nakamoto rich? There are roughly a million bitcoins that were "mined" in the first year from bitcoins that never moved. Today these bitcoins are worth around $ 55 billion.
That would make Nakamoto one of the 30 richest people in the world. According to the Forbes Real-Time Billionaires List. These millions of bitcoins are said to be controlled by Nakamoto, and only Nakamoto.
To move them around, you need the "private key," which is a long and unique series of letters and numbers that you control. The person who moves them would have a strong claim to be Nakamoto.
Then Why Weren't They Sold?
In the early years, the crypto community assumed that Nakamoto would remain anonymous and not touch these bitcoins, mostly out of fear. It didn't seem unreasonable that the inventor of bitcoin could be arrested.
However, most governments (China is the big exception) have accepted bitcoin to varying degrees for years. A decade has passed since Nakamoto's disappearance.
It is possible that the creator of Bitcoin died without giving the private keys to others. It is also possible that Nakamoto has lost the keys and cannot move the bitcoins.
Somebody has to be Nakamoto, though, right? Andresen was identified as Nakamoto. Everyone has denied it and there is no evidence to the contrary.
In 2014, a group of students and researchers from Aston University in Birmingham, England, performed a linguistic analysis and concluded that Mr. Szabo was most likely Nakamoto.
Others have claimed that he is also Nakamoto. Mr. Szabo rejected the claim.
Who is Craig Wright?
Mr. Wright is a London-based Australian programmer who claimed to be Nakamoto in 2016; his claims were quickly questioned and rejected in the Bitcoin community. Bitcoins.
To this day it hasn't. For the past several years, Mr. Wright has tried to enforce his claim. He has applied for patents on Bitcoin software even though it was released as an open-source project, and he sued a podcast host for publicly ridiculing his allegation of defamation.
Did the Florida lawsuit reveal Nakamoto's identity?
Wright himself was sued by the family of a late colleague named Dave Kleiman. Half of the Kleiman family from that million bitcoins.
However, the jury found no evidence that the two created bitcoins together. If they did, Mr. Wright could have been legally forced to sell some of those bitcoins in order to be able to pay the cash rewards.
So there won't be any legal pressure unless Wright proves ownership of Nakamoto's bitcoins, but most people in the bitcoin world will continue to deny his claims and until someone moves those bitcoins it's unlikely that no one will be accepted as the true creator of Bitcoin.
And the mystery continues!