BitMEX Research has conducted an in-depth study to estimate how many Bitcoins Satoshi mined, concluding the total to be BTC 600,000-700,000, currently worth over USD 4.7 billion as of this writing on 22 August 2018.
Satoshi Nakamoto founded Bitcoin, launching it in 2009. As the first person mining Bitcoin, how much was actually mined has always been a topic of interest.
A previous study by Sergio Demian Lerner in 2013 estimated that Satoshi mined around BTC 1 million and is the number commonly referenced for the size of Satoshi’s Bitcoin stash. Lerner graphed the ExtraNonce parameter versus block height, which revealed that a single miner, probably Satoshi, mined this amount in 2009.
ExtraNonce is a parameter listed in a Coinbase transaction, where a Coinbase transaction is the block reward generated by successfully mining a block. As a user keeps their computer running, the ExtraNonce value increases in value every time it overflows, which makes it like a clock showing how long a Bitcoin miner has been online. When the mining application is restarted the ExtraNonce is reset.
The chart of ExtraNonce versus block height shows that the same miner who mined block #1, which would be Satoshi Nakamoto, was mining throughout 2009 and restarting his wallet about every 100 hours, probably to backup the wallet. The Bitcoins mined by this miner have never been spent and the hashrate throughout 2009 was constant near 7 MH/s, further evidence that this was Satoshi.
BitMEX Research took Sergio’s analysis a step further and counted all the blocks mined by this dominant miner. This was difficult because ExtraNonce versus block height slopes from other miners crossed through the slopes of the dominant miner. BitMEX Research found that prior to August 2009, Lerner’s analysis was correct but after that, the slopes of the ExtraNonce versus block height lines changed drastically and didn’t have a set rhythm.
Prior to August 2009, the dominant miner generated 740,750 Bitcoins according to BitMEX Research. After August, the same mined 227,650 Bitcoins but there isn’t certainty in this estimate. The total is 968,400 Bitcoins, about the same as Sergio’s estimate.
However, BitMEX research says that is an overestimate since other miners could have been using a similar setup to Satoshi and the method for counting the blocks mined is prone to overestimates. It says the best estimate is BTC 600,000-700,000.
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