Thursday, December 24, 2015

Who invented Bitcoin?

Satoshi Nakamoto “outed” twice, but we still may not know.

Truly new forms of currency don’t come along every day. I’m not talking about Apple Pay or Google Wallet, which are payment technologies that serve as convenience abstractions for established currencies. I mean truly new currency systems with their own independent value, and with scale and the ability to be used internationally. Bitcoin is such a new currency. The details of Bitcoin were first published in a 2008 paper by its inventor Satoshi Nakamoto, who calls Bitcoin "digital cash." I first wrote about Bitcoin in 2011 in this blog.
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Who is Bitcoin inventor Satoshi Nakamoto? We have a name but cannot yet point to a person with certainty. "Satoshi Nakamoto" has long been a mystery. The name is generally considered to be a pseudonym for one or more cryptographers who developed the Bitcoin technologies, published papers, and released associated software. In an age in which the traditional is often supplanted by the new and digital on the Internet, Bitcoin is certainly of great interest to many. The mystery behind its inventor naturally captivates us.

In a 2014 cover story, Newsweek identified a southern-California engineer named Satoshi Nakamoto (or Dorian Nakamoto) as the Satoshi Nakamoto of Bitcoin fame. That story has since been largely discreditedEarly this month, Wired published a piece claiming that an Australian named Craig Steven Wright is the real Satoshi Nakamoto, and presented some evidence to support that claim. Some have questioned that evidence.

Many believe, based on the structure of the bitcoin system and its block chains, that the inventor holds one million bitcoins. As I write this, one million bitcoins would be worth about $444 million US. Perhaps the real Satoshi Nakamoto may eventually be motivated to come forward in order to wield that fortune.

Have you used Bitcoin yourself or at least thought about it? Does the idea of a currency which is private, not tied to the economic fortunes of a particular nation, and whose transactions are fast and inexpensive appeal to you?

Whatever your interest-level in Bitcoin, do you think that it's important that we eventually identify the Bitcoin inventor, or is the real identity of Satoshi Nakamoto unimportant as Bitcoin evangelists often claim?

Please leave a comment and let us know what you think.

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