Much has been written about Satoshi Nakamoto. So much in fact that it is clear that we cannot see the forest for the trees. For the longest time the debate has raged on between crypto-fanboys, government agencies and authors alike (sometimes with all 3 of those titles in one) as to the legitimacy of cryptocurrency creators identity.
Though it need not be said that the true identity is known, it must be said that the identity can be intelligently speculated over. It is highly unlikely that the identity will ever be truly known, and Satoshi Nakamoto will never reveal himself.
So who is Satoshi Nakamoto? Why haven’t we found him yet? Surely he would have revealed himself by now?
The answer, as will be described to you in this article, is that it’s not that simple. If it is as I beleive it to be, Satoshi Nakamoto is in fact an online persona comprised of three real persons. The key assumption here is that everybody involved is telling the truth. Specifically, Hal Finney knew who Satoshi Nakamoto was, Dave Kleiman knew who Satoshi was, and finally that Craig Steven Wright was in fact Satoshi Nakamoto (albeit for the shortest amount of time).
In a tribute to Game Of Thrones plotline around the Azor Ahai prophecy, I’m going to attempt to build a true picture of how I believe the identity of Satoshi Nakamoto came to pass, and how the tragic deaths of Dave Kleiman and Hal Finney inevitably sealed the fate of bitcoin, and gave it value far beyond what we would have considered it to be.
When Hal Finney was looking into building a digital store of value, he needed help. Of course, being the early days of the internet, the cypher-punks (as they were known) used forums as their primary method of communication.
We don’t need to go into who Hal Finney is. Put simply, he is the inventor of bitcoin. In the same way that we attribute the invention of the iPhone to Steve Jobs, Hal Finney invented Bitcoin. By extension of this metaphor, Nick Szabo invented the BlackBerry. Wai Dei invented the Palm Pilot. They all worked, but there is only one still going in the market.
It was through these forums that Finney met David Kleiman. Kleiman, a cryptography expert came up with the concept of “mining”, whereby a computational puzzle is solved by a network of computers to generate a new collection of transactions, known as a “block”. Of course, in this sense you could say that David Kleiman could be considered the inventor of bitcoin as a protocol, and the idea of a distributed ledger based on a consensus algorithm could also be considered the fundamental distinguishing feature of bitcoin. But we digress.
As Kleiman and Finney began to create the bitcoin protocol, it was Finney’s idea to build an identity for Bitcoin’s creator. He reasoned that by using an identity, he could continue to build out the Bitcoin platform unburdened by the infamy that would come with building such a platform. This was Tim Berners-Lee in the age of the internet, or Bill Gates and Steve Jobs at the dawn of the personal computer age. This time, the stakes were much higher. Personal computers had nothing to replace, nor did the internet. Bitcoin could replace all currency as we knew it. Therefore, the creator needed a name.
Satoshi Nakomoto was born from the parents of David Kleiman and Hal Finney. As the two collaborated over the specifics of the Bitcoin protocol, they realised they needed to conduct tests, get guidance from other conspirators and of course, send bitcoin.
The following is intended to be purely speculative, but here is what I believe happened:
Hal Finney had Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as motor neurone disease (MND), or Lou Gehrig’s disease. That much is obvious.
Hal Finney came up with the name Satoshi Nakomoto. That much is obvious too.
Hal Finney lacked the mobility to collaborate with all of the contributors of bitcoin. He enlisted the help of Dave Kleiman to be the voice behind Bitcoin. He was the ideas man, but Dave Kleiman would distill his ideas into a finer art.
Dave Kleiman had all the login details for Satoshi Nakamoto’s email accounts. He had all the forum logins and passwords for collaborating. He was an expert at covering his tracks, and knew how to disappear without a trace. But he was ultimately acting at Hal Finney’s bidding.
Once the protocol was constructed, Hal Finney directed Dave Kleiman to make the first transaction to his wallet. It was thus only Hal Finney and Dave Kleiman who had access to the private key for the intial supply of Bitcoin.
Hal Finney soon realised that the system was gaining traction. He knew that Satoshi needed to disappear. He instructed Dave Kleiman to destroy all the evidence of their collaboration (which wasn’t hard considering it was all heavily encrypted). In deleting all the evidence, Dave Kleiman sealed Satoshi’s fate for years to come. We refer to this event as the erasure.
So, this now begs the question. What about the man that came out as saying that he was Satoshi Nakamoto? Surely he can’t have been involved?
He is not lying. For the a brief moment in history, Craig Steven Wright had a login for Satoshi Nakamoto.
Dave Kleiman needed help. We all need help. Craig Steven Wright claimed to have access to that information. He was great at winging his way through things, and he had all the cunning to convince Kleiman to let him have a piece of the action.
Kleiman sent him bitcoin using the original private key, allowing Wright to be able to showcase the earliest known bitcoin transaction (apart from the original). Wright then posted under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto.
Following the erasure (and subsequent deaths of the collaborators), Craig was distraught. He gathered what evidence he could, and bunkered down to watch the bitcoin seed grow. Craig isn’t lying when he said he was Satoshi Nakamoto. He was the third head. He collaborated with Dave Kleiman, who was acting on behalf of Hal Finney. He is the third, less impressive head of the dragon. The incidental member of the three musketeers. He might have some merit, but nobody wants to be Ringo.
Inevitably, there will be some questions here.
If this is all true, why did Hal Finney invent Bitcoin?
Hal was a masterful inventor. A bona fide genius. But he was flawed. He knew he was on borrowed time, living with ALS. He needed a way out.
Bitcoin was that way out. ALS is a terrible disease, and is near incurable. Hal Finney realised that his only way out was to raise enough money for treatment and eventually find a cure. He invented a new type of money specifically for this.
Bitcoin was his swan song. It’s amazing what a genius mind will do when their life is on the line. Bitcoin was Hal Finney’s brain in overdrive, the brain of a bona fide genius, trying to save itself. Hal Finney died so we could have Bitcoin. In a tragic twist of fate, so did Dave Kleiman.
Apart from the obvious shared understanding of cryptography, software development and so on, the two had something else in common. They were both wheelchair bound.
It’s rare enough to find someone with the same appreciation for cryptography and cyber security, let alone someone with the same shared suffering. That is as true a bond if ever I saw one.
The tragedy and the triumph of the story is that both collaborators are dead. When Dave Kleiman tragically passed away from MRS in 2013, Hal Finney finally understood the significance of his life. He had reinvented money. He was going to die, and nobody would ever understand the significance of what had taken place.
At the end of the day, we don’t need to know who Satoshi Nakamoto is. We just need to know that he existed as an online identity.
Above all else, just think about how amazingly unlikely this story is. Hal Finney and Dave Kleiman meeting. Their understanding of each other, and ego-less work ethic. Craig Wright as the Ringo Starr of the group. Their untimely deaths leading to the bitcoin behemoth we know today. All this seems impossible.
But it just might be true.
If anybody ever asks you if you know who Satoshi Nakamoto is, simply reply…
The dragon has three heads.
Oscar Loudon runs the startup AssetSquared. Cryptocurrency was made for crowdfunding. We make it possible. Buy, sell and trade digital assets using the AssetSquared platform. Find out more at AssetSquared.io