No one knows whether Satoshi Nakamoto is still alive or dead.
“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,” Satoshi Nakamoto, the creator of Bitcoin wrote in an email to Gavin Andresen, one of the cryptocurrency’s early developers.
After the email was sent on April 26, 2011, Satoshi Nakamoto stopped talking to Gavin Andresen. Not long after, the creator of Bitcoin disappeared online. This mysterious developer has been silent for the past 10 years.
Mysteriously appear, suddenly disappear
The name Satoshi Nakamoto first appeared in October 2008, with the scientific article titled “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System.” In this article, Satoshi Nakamoto describes how Bitcoin works, from how it is traded to how it was created.
Just a year later, the Bitcoin founder created the Bitcointalk forum. At this forum, Satoshi regularly discusses technical issues with members. At this point, he also hired a team of developers to continuously improve the Bitcoin blockchain.
While frequently communicating with programmers like Gavin Andresen or Mike Hearn, these developers never met Satoshi Nakamoto in person. There is always a “mysterious fog” surrounding the creator of Bitcoin.
“In the absence of any hard evidence, many Bitcoin users have built Satoshi Nakamoto into a sort of hero, imagining him as a selfless genius who created a system that would allow for greater economic freedom,” reporter Nathaniel Popper wrote in the 2015 New York Times article.
Roger Ver, a Bitcoin enthusiast, and investor said in an email. “I hope the real Satoshi is never found.”
Despite being the creator of Bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto’s technical mark on the coin is not much. As noted by Github, about 100 founders are contributing the most to the Bitcoin source code from May 2009 to the present. Among them was Satoshi Nakamoto.
Satoshi himself, under the nickname Satoshi, is also gradually less active on Bitcointalk forums. In December 2010, this programmer posted his last post on the forum, describing a new update to the Bitcoin core. Immediately after the post, he no longer returned to Bitcointalk. The status of the Bitcointalk forum that last recorded the appearance of satoshi was December 13, 2010.
After that, Satoshi continued to communicate by email with several other developers such as Gavin, Marti, and Mike Hearn. Since Satoshi is almost no longer active in the Bitcoin community, these developers are also very curious about what he will contribute in the future.
“I’ve moved on to other things and probably won’t be around in the future,” Satoshi Nakamoto wrote in an email to developer Martti Malmi in May 2011. That was also the last email Satoshi sent.
Satoshi Nakamoto is still a mystery after 10 years of “disappearing”
As Bitcoin started to rise in value a few years later, the question of who was Satoshi Nakamoto was asked more and more. In 2014, Newsweek magazine published an article confirming Satoshi Nakamoto is a Japanese-born engineer living in California whose real name is Dorian Nakamoto.
“For the past 40 years, Satoshi Nakamoto has not used a birth name. At the age of 23, after graduating from California State Polytechnic University, he changed his name to ‘Dorian Prentice Satoshi Nakamoto. Since then, he stopped using the word Satoshi but signed ‘Dorian S. Nakamoto’, the Newsweek article confirmed.
This article also has a picture of the house where Dorian Nakamoto is living. Shortly after the article was published, Gavin Andresen wrote on his page that he was sorry that Newsweek revealed Mr. Nakamoto’s home address, and for speaking with the magazine’s journalist Leah Goodman.
However, this information was quickly denied by many people. Dorian Nakamoto himself insists he has “nothing to do with Bitcoin”. On the P2P Foundation forum, the account named Satoshi Nakamoto posted a brief message.
“I’m not Dorian Nakamoto,” replied Satoshi Nakamoto in an article about Bitcoin from February 2009. Looking at the post history of this account, you can believe that this is Satoshi Nakamoto’s account.
That post on May 7, 2014, was also the last time Satoshi Nakamoto posted on the P2P Foundation.
Up to now, it is still impossible to conclude who is behind Satoshi Nakamoto. Many theories suggest that it could be developers like Hal Finney or Nick Szabo. Hal Finney was the first to congratulate Satoshi on the launch of Bitcoin, who also made the first Bitcoin transaction in January 2009 when Satoshi sent him 10 Bitcoins.
In August 2014, Hal Finney died of unilateral muscle atrophy (ALS). If Finney was indeed Satoshi, he might have brought his secret to the afterlife.
Nick Szabo has been on the Cypherpunks forum since the 1990s, where members propose ideas to digitalize money. In 1998, he came up with the idea of digital money, called “bit gold,” in a development team that included Hal Finney. A lot of bit gold’s ideas have similarities with Bitcoin.
New York Times author Nathaniel Popper, who has interviewed Bitcoin programmers from the beginning, thinks that Nick Szabo is most likely Satoshi Nakamoto himself. However, when asked Nick Szabo has always denied he is the father of Bitcoin.
“Myself, Wei Dai, and Hal Finney were the only people I know of who liked the idea (or in Dai’s case his related idea) enough to pursue it to any significant extent until Nakamoto,” revealed Nick Szabo in an article in May. 2011. This is also the time when Satoshi Nakamoto sent the last email.
Whoever Satoshi Nakamoto is, alive or dead, he plays an important role in the development of Bitcoin. After 10 years since the creator of Bitcoin disappeared, the cryptocurrency has risen tens of thousands of times, and there is still room for further development.