Who is Satoshi Nakamoto?
Satoshi Nakamoto is the name used by the person or people who designed bitcoin and created its original reference implementation,
He then released the first version of the bitcoin software client in 2009, and participated with others on the project via mailing lists, until he finally began to fade from the community toward the end of 2010.
Nakamoto worked with people on the open-source team, but took care never to reveal anything personal about himself, and the last anyone heard from him was in the spring of 2011, when he said that he had “moved on to other things”.
On his P2P Foundation profile as of 2012, Nakamoto claimed to be a 37-year-old male who lived in Japan, but some speculated he was unlikely to be Japanese due to his use of perfect English and his bitcoin software not being documented or labelled in Japanese.
“Satoshi” means "clear thinking, quick witted; wise". “Naka” can mean “medium, inside, or relationship”. “Moto” can mean “origin”, or “foundation”.
Those things would all apply to the person who founded a movement by designing a clever algorithm. The problem, of course, is that each word has multiple possible meanings.
We can’t know for sure whether he was Japanese or not. In fact, it’s rather presumptuous to assume that he was actually a ‘he’.
Occasional British English spelling and terminology (such as the phrase "bloody hard") in both source code comments and forum postings led to speculation that Nakamoto, or at least one individual in the consortium claiming to be him, was of Commonwealth origin.
Stefan Thomas, a Swiss coder and active community member, graphed the time stamps for each of Nakamoto's bitcoin forum posts (more than 500); the resulting chart showed a steep decline to almost no posts between the hours of 5 a.m. and 11 a.m. Greenwich Mean Time. Because this pattern held true even on Saturdays and Sundays, it suggested that Nakamoto was asleep at this time. If Nakamoto is a single individual with conventional sleeping habits, it suggests he resided in a region using the UTC−05:00 or UTC−06:00 time offset. This includes the parts of North America that fall within the Eastern Time Zone and Central Time Zone, as well as parts of Central America, the Caribbean and South America.
How rich is he?
An analysis by Sergio Lerner, an authority on bitcoin and cryptography, suggests that Satoshi mined many of the early blocks in the bitcoin network, and that he had built up a fortune of around 1 million unspent bitcoins. That hoard would be worth $1bn at November 2013’s exchange rate of $1,000.
While the identity of Satoshi doesn’t much matter anymore, the actions of the person behind the pseudonym do. Satoshi owns a large number of bitcoins, and if a large supply is moved at once it could trigger a larger selloff. “If those coins started to move to other addresses, the price of bitcoin would likely drop significantly,” says Dan Held, founder of ZeroBlock, a bitcoin trading platform that Blockchain.info acquired in 2013. “Personally, I believe Satoshi destroyed his private keys [Author’s note: cryptographic I.D. cards], as he realized that cashing out his holdings would expose his identity and negatively impact the value of bitcoin.”
The Economist explains
Who is Satoshi Nakamoto?
“I HAVE moved on to other things.” Thus wrote the mysterious creator of bitcoin, who calls himself Satoshi Nakamoto, in an e-mail in April 2011. Except for a few messages, most of which are believed to be hoaxes, he has not been heard from since. Nobody has ever met him in person, no photos exist. Even the roughly 1m bitcoin (currently worth more than $400m) which sit in digital wallets once controlled by him have not been touched. So who is the elusive creator of the technology which powers the digital currency?
Most books on bitcoin feature a lengthy chapter about who Mr Nakamoto may be. Each has its own theory, often based on the same sources. Some locate him in Britain (because of his use of Britishisms, such as “bloody hard”). Others reckon he is somewhere in the eastern parts of the Americas (because of the timestamps on his e-mails). He has been variously identified as a Finnish sociologist, a Japanese mathematician and an Irish student. The names mentioned most often are Nick Szabo and Hal Finney, two American cryptographers, but the former denies it and the latter died in 2014. In March last year Newsweek, a magazine, identified a man living in California, named Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto, as the real Nakamoto—which turned out to be an embarrassing (and predictable) canard. Then there is the argument that Mr Nakamoto's bitcoin code is so good that it must have been written by more than one person.
Speculation about Mr Nakamoto’s identity is likely to continue, much like other evergreens such as who really killed JFK or whether Elvis is still alive. A more interesting question is whether Mr Nakamoto's absence is a good thing for bitcoin. Whether it was planned all along or not, Mr Nakamoto’s disappearance is at least as brilliant as the technology he created in 2008. The vanishing act not only guaranteed ongoing publicity, it bequeathed bitcoin with a powerful creation myth, helping the currency attract followers and gain momentum. It befits a system which powers a currency without a central bank to have no leader. And it makes the project less vulnerable: had Mr Nakamoto stayed around, or even founded a startup to manage his creation, he would have become the target of all kinds of attacks—as did the founders of Napster, the first sizeable peer-to-peer music-sharing service.