D.B. Cooper, Jack the Ripper, the lone Chinese man facing off the tank in Tianiamen Square–all famous people world wide but whose identity is unknown. Until recently the creator of Bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto (a pseudonym), was part of this list. Yet, an Australain computer scientist named Craig Steven Wright has finally stepped forward and unmasked himself as the inventor of the world’s first popular digital currency.
Since its creation in 2008, the inventor of Bitcoin has remained largely in the shadows, known only by his Japanese alias. In the fall of that year he published a research paper “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System” that suggested the development of a system to enable electronic cash payments from person to person without the oversight of a third-party financial institution or central authority. A few months later, in January 2009, the mystery man released the software necessary to make Bitcoin a reality. Soon he was joined by several others in the development of this virtual financial system. Then, just as he had suddenly appeared, Nakamoto stepped back into the shadows, giving Gavin Andresen, a Silicon Valley computer scientist, control of the digital currency. As the anonymous scientist stated in an email on April 23, 2011, “I’ve moved on to other things. It’s (bitcoin) in good hands with Gavin and everyone.”
Since then there has been much interest and speculation about the true identity of Nakamoto. Journalists and the curious have suggested several likely candidates ranging from Michael Clear, a cryptography student in Dublin, Ireland to Vili Lehdonvirta, an economic sociologist in Finland. The would be detectives poured over thousands of documents trying to pick up clues to the identity of the creator through his writing style. By August of 2015 CryptoCoinNews reported that there had been ten different individuals suggested as the inventor of the currency. Ironically, Wright was not one of those named. In December of last year Wired and Gizmodo both pointed a finger at Wright after purportedly obtaining emails indicating the Australian was the Bitcoin originator. At that time, an email from an address previously used by Nakamoto stated unequivocally that Wright was not the identity of Satoshi Nakamoto. “I am not Craig Wright. We are all Satoshi.”
Curiously enough, after the publishing of these articles by Wired and Gizmodo, it seems that the Australian government was convinced, as Wright’s home was raided by Austrailian federal police. Officially, the government officials and Wright denied any connection of the raid to the revelations by the two magazines. They both agreed the raid was over supposed tax issues.
Wright, who was born in 1970, finally ended speculation about his role in Bitcoin on May 2 when he publicly acknowledged he was its creator. He contacted the BBC, The Economist, and GQ magazine and admitted that he created the digital currency. Adding credence to his claim was the opinion of two important players in the Bitcoin world–Andreson, the trustee chosen by the creator in 2011 to handle Bitcoin’s future as the “father” of the electronic cash decided to fade into obscurity and Jon Matonis, economist at the Bitcoin Foundation. Both men agreed that they believed Wright to have proven conclusively his identity as Nakamoto by employing his original digital “signature” during the meeting with the BBC.
Since the revelation by Wright earlier this month there has erupted a firestorm of controversy with many other notable computer experts questioning Wright’s credentials as Bitcoin’s creator. They have dismissed Wright’s original “proof” of his identity to the BBC as an elaborate hoax which has really proven nothing. Though Wright had promised irrefutable proof forth coming in a few days after his announcement, later he posted an apology on his blog stating, “…as the events of this week unfolded and I prepared to publish proof of access to the earliest keys, I broke. I do not have the courage. I broke.” His refusal to provide incontrovertible evidence that he truly is Satoshi Nakamoto only served to fuel his critics and naysayers.
On the old television game show “To Tell the Truth” three contestants tried to convince the panelists that they were the real notable person described in the program’s beginning segment, while the other two were imposters. At the end of the program, the announcer would dramatically say, “Will the real Mr. _______ please stand up!” Finally, the mystery was solved at that point. Certainly many in the modern tech world today would like to echo this by saying, “Will the real Satoshi Nakamoto please stand up!” Hopefully time will reveal whether Craig Steven Wright has properly stood up when he said, “I’m the real Nakamoto.”