On 29 June 2018, an author claiming to be Satoshi Nakamoto published a website called the ‘Nakamoto Family Foundation’ that gives details about how a book explaining the origins of Bitcoin may eventually be released.
The author says there is no guarantee that the book will come into existence but published a 21-page paper on the website titled ‘Duality: an excerpt’ that is essentially a book including in-depth details about the personal interactions and technology that led to Bitcoin. If what the author claims is true, it will be the first time in many years that Satoshi Nakamoto has surfaced publicly.
The author clarifies that Satoshi Nakamoto is not a real name, rather it is a pseudonym. He discusses how there has been a debate about whether Satoshi Nakamoto is a pseudonym for a group of people that developed Bitcoin. He says he spent lots of time alone developing Bitcoin in the beginning but eventually, a group of people consisting of Hal Finney, Gavin Andresen and Mike Hearn became essential collaborators. Therefore, Satoshi Nakamoto could be thought of as a pseudonym for the collective of early developers.
The author took privacy very seriously even though there was no threat in the beginning and, ultimately, as Bitcoin drew attention, privacy ended up being essential. He went to great lengths to mask his IP address with Tor, register and pay for his website domains anonymously, and to use anonymous email accounts. After some time, he says he was no longer needed since a skilled Bitcoin development team was in place, and he had no desire to continue, especially since there were some serious but undisclosed reasons he had to leave for his own safety. He deleted everything linking him to the Satoshi Nakamoto pseudonym, but says he did save a series of files as proof.
Mainstream financial technology news outlets seem to be taking in the announcement positively, with both Bloomberg and Fortune publishing stories that indicate acceptance of Duality’s author’s claims. Tech publication Wired reports to have been contacted by someone on behalf of the author but admits that its own initial findings are inconclusive on the issue of his true identity.
However, despite what appears to be a high level of detail in Duality’s content, most of the cryptocurrency community have not been convinced that Satoshi Nakamoto has resurfaced. Skeptics of these sort of claims typically believe that the true Nakamoto would be able to prove ownership and private keys of the 1 million odd dormant Bitcoins supposedly mined by Nakamoto, for example. Craig Wright – himself a past Nakamoto candidate – has also denounced the claim as a fraud, saying that Duality’s author made mistakes in the chronological order of events.
Bitcoin.com also reports that amateur stylometrists – who study and analyze patterns in writing style – generally found the writing style of Duality to be incongruent with Satoshi Nakamoto’s past publications and correspondence.
Satoshi Nakamoto says he was basically one of the only Bitcoin miners for the first year after the launch of Bitcoin, and set up the first Bitcoin mining farm consisting of many computers to rack up as many Bitcoins as possible while difficulty was low. He and Mike Hearn foresaw that eventually specialized mining machines would be developed to mine Bitcoin more rapidly. He doesn’t say how much he mined, but past studies indicate Satoshi Nakamoto mined around 1 million Bitcoins.
Hal Finney was the only reason the Bitcoin network survived according to Satoshi Nakamoto, and he says Finney should be credited with Bitcoin’s success. Finney launched one of the first Bitcoin nodes and for a time his node was the only one receiving incoming connections. Also, Finney worked intensively with Satoshi Nakamoto to fix critical bugs in early versions of the software. It is well known that Finney received the first Bitcoin transaction.
Bitcoin aggregated existing technology, such as proof of work and hash functions, and also considered previous ideas like Hashcash, Digicash, b-money, Electronic Cash, and Bit Gold. Nakamoto was careful to reference previous digital forms of money in the Bitcoin whitepaper to appear more reputable to the cypherpunk community but was also careful to focus on positive aspects rather than past disaster stories. Nakamoto had been in the cypherpunk community for years before creating Bitcoin.
Some interesting tidbits from the Duality paper include that originally, the blockchain was called timechain and that forks were called the branch point. Nakamoto considered using 42 as the block reward in reference to the Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy’s answer for life, the universe, and everything but thought that would make people take the project less seriously.
Ultimately, Nakamoto says he created Bitcoin so the world would have an anonymous and decentralized currency. The message included in the genesis block, “The Times 03/Jan/2009 Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks”, indicates how centralized forms of currency were failing. He says the main problem Bitcoin solved versus past forms of digital currency is the double spend problem via verifying transactions through all nodes on a single immutable ledger.
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