Who Is The Bitcoin Mystery Man?

By Mike Devlin on Wednesday, October 23, 2013
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“Bitcoin is going to be the biggest opportunity for innovation that the world has seen since the industrial revolution. An idea whose time has come.” —Bitcoin FAQ: What is a good way to concisely explain Bitcoin?

In A Nutshell

The founder of Bitcoin is a mysterious person or entity calling itself “Satoshi Nakamoto.” Nakamoto has never come forward, and there is rampant speculation as to his real identity and the murky agenda behind Bitcoin. In 2010, Satoshi Nakamoto, whoever (or whatever) he is, vanished.

The Whole Bushel

Bitcoin is a bit difficult to explain, a decentralized electronic currency or “cryptocurrency” which can be transferred online without the use of banks or credit cards. There is currently over $1 billion in Bitcoin currency in circulation. While the entire idea sounds wonderfully progressive, there are some concerns this technology could be used to move funds for illegal purposes, including terrorism and the drug trade. In June 2013, the United States Drug Enforcement Agency seized 11.02 bitcoin (about the equivalent of $814) from a man using it to attempt to buy narcotics. Moreover, the entire program could easily be a scam by its pseudonymous creator. Bitcoin was announced in 2008 in a paper written by a party named Satoshi Nakamoto. By 2009, the first Bitcoins were issued.

The most intriguing part of the Bitcoin situation is its elusive founder. Nakamoto claimed to be a 37-year-old man living in Japan, but there is no reason to believe that is the case. The name is clearly a pseudonym—in Japanese, Satoshi means “wise,” Naka means “inside” or “relationship,” and moto means “the origin” or “the foundation.” Satoshi’s communications have been in English, but he has been known to use both British and American spellings, leading some to believe there is more than one person behind the scheme.

There are many theories on Satoshi Nakamoto’s identity. Possibilities include Gavin Andresen (the Bitcoin project’s lead developer), a development team from Dublin’s Trinity College, and Japanese mathematician Shinichi Mochizuki, among others. There is also a conspiracy theory that Nakamoto may be a government plot designed to potentially topple world economies. The elusive programmer’s final correspondences are dated to 2010, when he apparently handed the reins of Bitcoin to Andresen. Satoshi Nakamoto disappeared and has not been heard from since.

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