The Known Life of Satoshi Nakamoto

Introduction:-

Satoshi Nakamoto is likely a pseudonym used by the real person who created Bitcoin and Blockchain Technology. The main focus of the article was that why did the person behind the persona of Satoshi Nakamoto create such an identity. The answer to the question and other questions are answered as far as possible.

Bitcoin Supposed Look
Image by MichaelWuensch from Pixabay

Entry of Satoshi Nakamoto:-

Satoshi Nakamoto first came into view when he mailed the Whitepaper titled Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System to the Cypherpunks mailing list on metzdowd.com. He sent the mail using his Vistamail address on 30 Oct/1 Nov 2008. He later also published it on P2P foundation after registering on the site. Some cryptographic inventions people use in daily life without knowing are invented by those on the mailing list. But there is a twist here that before Satoshi sent that mail, he bought a domain bitcoin.org on 18 Aug 2008, two months before he released the whitepaper.

According to theymos, who is considered as one of the ‘top guy in so-called bitcoin hierarchy’ and further research noted below, the domain was registered anonymously by cash payment by anonymousspeech.com. It was a privacy respecting domain registrar who registered the domain in Japan, the same country Satoshi identified himself. Satoshi registered himself on SourceForge with the username nakamoto2 on 5 Oct 2008. SourceForge was where the code was compiled and released after every new update. Sirius a.k.a. Martti Malmi a developer helped Satoshi re-organize the webpage and maintain the bitcoin.org domain after he read the whitepaper. Later, the code was shifted to Github by other developers. He then helped to move a forum from SourceForge to bitcointalk.org domain.

The real person behind Satoshi Nakamoto might even be on the cryptographic mailing list under a different name or with another anonymous name before publishing the whitepaper, or he may be lurking on the mailing list just for gathering information. The members of the mailing list mostly communicated with their real names, and most of them knew each other in real life and had annual conferences in various parts of the world to discuss matters related to cryptography. To conclude, that the cryptographers on the mailing list and those who were not on the mailing list were not faceless ‘super-coders’ but had real identities.

Some cryptographers and different entrepreneurs dived into ‘digital currencies’ ideas before Bitcoin came into existence notable among them were Wei Dai:-B money, Nick Szabo’s:-Bitgold, David Chaum’s:-Digicash, Liberty Dollar from 2002 to 2006, E-Gold from 1996 to 2000, E-bullion from 2001 to 2008. Bernard von NotHaus created the Liberty Dollar, which was a physical currency pegged to minerals and gold. He ran the operation for 10 years and was later arrested by US Government on ‘bogus’ charges. Liberty Dollar and E-gold founders were given probation and the project was shut down based on the infamous ‘Patriot Act’.

He perfected each of these projects in his own way and created bitcoin, but majorly the blockchain technology. This is mentioned in the whitepaper references and further communications from him and credits it to Wei Dai, Nick Szabo, Adam Back, and other researchers. But none of these cryptographers and developers anonymously published their projects on digital currencies, none of them were arrested by any government.

Exit of Satoshi Nakamoto:-

Satoshi Nakamoto left the crypto community with his last post on the bitcoin forum on 10 Dec 2010 and after that, he never communicated publicly and vanished from the face of the earth. For over 2 years he was the lead developer of bitcoin code and had total control over it. But just before leaving he made Gavin Anderson, the lead developer, and left.

Exactly why Satoshi left is disputed; one major theory is that Wikileaks was going to start accepting bitcoin and that scared Satoshi. They were going to accept BTC as they were been banned by Card Companies, and PayPal had restricted their account; so the only choice they had left at that time was to use BTC, a decentralised currency, which they did on 15 June 2011, six months after Satoshi left. In Nov 2010, when Satoshi was going to leave in a few weeks, there were posts on the bitcoin forum to make Wikileaks accept BTC as practically it was the only choice left for them. But Satoshi disagreed with the opinion, arguing that if Wikileaks starts accepting BTC every single government will attack BTC, Blockchain as the code and community was not prepared to handle such attacks.

Wikileaks was not the first big organization to accept BTC. EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation)started accepting BTC around 20 Nov 2010 for a few months. They abandoned the idea for few years as they argued that it may be illegal for them to accept donations via BTC as it was not a legal tender. It didn’t create any problems for BTC and the community, as EFF was not the same as Wikileaks.

Satoshi publicly left the bitcoin community, but he still was communicating with other cryptographers privately by email. The emails of Mike Hearn with Satoshi were made publicly available by Mike where they discussed some questions related to blockchain till April 2011, a whole 5 months after he publicly left. There is also an email excerpt of April 2011 released by Gavin, where he communicated with Satoshi on matters related to his visit to CIA headquarters. The visit was for an emerging technologies conference for the US intelligence community. That was his last known private email released to the public by cryptographers who communicated with Satoshi Nakamoto.

Abnormalities and Opinionated Conclusions:-

1.) Emails:-

Satoshi for an unknown reason had three different email addresses which he used to communicate with like-minded people. They were satoshi@vistomail.com address, satoshin@gmx.com, and a different email address of satoshi@anonymousspeech.com which was used to communicate with Wei Dai on 22 Aug 2008 and also likely with Adam Back before he publicly released the paper. The anonymousspeech address and the vistomail address are of the same company whom he registered the domain. GMX was primarily used by him to communicate on Bitcointalk forum and on Sourceforge and Vistomail address was sometimes used for private emails.

So why did Satoshi had three different email addresses from 2 different companies when one email could be enough as using that many emails from different companies might be hard to cloak his IP. GMX provides free email and had a good privacy policy in 2008 but compared to Anonymousspeech which practically did not respond to any government request except from a Japanese Court. They also provided anonymous IP and various other benefits for people who needed privacy at the highest level. Also, using GMX as his primary email instead of only using Anonymousspeech does not feel right. It might be that he thought if one mail provider suddenly shuts down, he should have a backup with which he can still communicate with others who will recognize that the mail is authentic, coming directly from Satoshi.

2) Timestamps & Time zones:-

The timestamps on his email activity and messages were of GMT (Greenwich Meridian Time) which converted to JST (Japanese Standard Time) suggest that his 90% of activity was between midnight and morning (12:00 am to 10:00 am). Which does not make any sense as Satoshi should have been active from 8:00 am to 10:pm according to JST for sending emails and messages to make other developers believe he is Japanese since he wanted them to see him as a Japanese person. If Satoshi did not try to game the timestamps and time zones by changing his regular work hours for messaging online, it might indicate that he is either from Western Asia, Europe, or from Americas.

3.) Language Style:-

Satoshi is unique compared to normal people, as he used double spaces after every full stop. This phenomenon is not unique among researchers and academics, as they usually prefer and use double spaces for writing as a habit from when typewriters were used. Another thing which makes Satoshi unique even in Crypto community is that he combined usage of British English along with Americanised Version. Many cryptographers are living in US and Americanised English is used mainly in Cryptography communities except for few oddballs.

Satoshi usually used British English except for few instances where he used Americanized English, mainly in coding department. A few grammatical mistakes are also found in his forum posts. Which might mean that he never used Spell-check or at that movement it was turned off. It is also noted that he used a British phrase in the message, which would be hard to use by a person pretending to use British English.

4.) Time & Funding:-

As time zones were discussed, Time should also be considered which Satoshi used for his overall research, updating software, and his presence in bitcoin community. Considering Satoshi to be an adult, he would have a working job as a normal person. As it will hard to think that he would be unemployed for straight three years from 2007 to 2010. Many Cryptographers and developers who helped Satoshi during the period had regular jobs in tech companies Dell, IBM, Microsoft (e.g., Mike Hearn for Big Tech Company). Some of them were using their skills to earn enough money for daily livelihood and were contributing to the project in their part-time. A minority of them were contributing to the project full time, but they usually had situations where they could do it.

So, we get three options:-

  • a.) He was unemployed for straight three years and was continuously working for on the project.
  • b.) He had a regular job and was working on the project part-time after his job.
  • c.) He was a researcher funded by an organization or university and was working on the project full-time.

Option (a) might be unlikely considering Satoshi’s Personality and the fact that the mining operation he ran from his computer must have used a lot of electricity and the cost for him to pay with option 1 would be very hard.

Option (b) is a possibility, as a lot of Tech Companies give funds and time for employees to work on their individual projects during work hours. If he did it after work hours, the load he would get from continuous office work and his side project would be too much. He would likely need to function 24 hours a day considering he was the head of the bitcoin project.

Option (c) has more probability compared to option (b) as a lot of important research projects are being done by researchers affiliated with universities or institutions, as they provide funds, lab, and the researchers can work without any worry.

5.) Anonymous Publication:-

Also, why did Satoshi felt that he needed to be anonymous to publish his ideas. When most of the previous creators who tried to create digital money with the help of cryptography were never arrested or never in fear for their life. Satoshi went to such lengths, likely by using Tor and anonymous payments, that he became practically untraceable if someone tried to find him. Did Satoshi figure out that his whitepaper and ideas was so well planned that it will be 100% successful and people in the future will do peer to peer transactions as he envisioned. Thus, figuring it out that governments from all over the world will be on his tail and file charges against him for creating such a technology which will undermine their authority.

Satoshi Nakamoto Legacy
Image by Jae Rue from Pixabay

Final Opinionated Conclusion:-

Satoshi Nakamoto is likely a single man, a researcher with a grant from an organization or university. The only connection of Satoshi with Japan is found through the domain registrar and email provider. So it might be he researched as to how does this registrar register a domain, took it as a lead and created a fake Japanese identity known as Satoshi Nakamoto. He likely is a citizen born in a commonwealth country either in Western Asia, Europe, or Africa.

:-AnonymousZ

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