Who is the REAL Satoshi?
This is a question that pretty much keeps me up some nights.
Every time I see Satoshi being mentioned in news articles I instantly go down the rabbit hole to see if there is any more information that might help me come to my own conclusion of who Satoshi could potentially be.
I actually started to make notes on all of this to keep up with everything and have decided to compile my notes into this Publish0x post.
Satoshi is the creator of the Bitcoin protocol but unfortunately, he disappeared around December 2010 when Gavin Andresen mentioned the fact that the CIA had contacted him to talk about Bitcoin. In addition to this, this was the same time that WikiLeaks mentioned Bitcoin which Satoshi felt was a bad move for the cryptocurrency.
Ever since his disappearance, there have been a number of candidates that have been suggested as potential Satoshis. The candidates that I will cover today are;
1. Dave Kleiman
2. Hal Finney
3. Dorian Nakamoto
4. Nick Szabo
5. Adam Back
6. Paul Solotshi Calder Le Roux
Oh, I left out Craig Wright because nobody believes anything he says!
Let me get started.
1. Dave Kleiman
Dave Klieman was an American computer forensics expert who lived and worked in Florida.
Unfortunately, Kleiman was involved in a motorcycle accident in 1995 that left him paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair and he eventually passed away in April 2013, aged just 46 years old.
However, this motorcycle accident did seem to spark his increased interest in computer science.
Kleiman was known for his hard drive forensic skills. He also was known to have developed many encryption tools that were used by NASA, the US Department of Treasury, and the US Post Office.
In addition to all of this, Kleiman was a regular contributor to a bunch of cryptography mailing lists and was actually a long time contributor to the Metzdowd Cryptography mailing list - the same list in which Satoshi Nakamoto first announced Bitcoin in 2008.
So, Why Is Kleiman Possibly Satoshi?
Kleiman was first suggested to be Satoshi Nakamoto in 2015 when WIRED released an article suggesting that Craig Wright, the self-proclaimed creator of Bitcoin, and Kleiman had partnered together to create Bitcoin.
WIRED had received an anonymous cache of documents that all suggested that Wright and Kleiman had been working on the Bitcoin software as early August 2008, months before Bitcoin was even announced.
In a series of leaked emails, Wright and Kleiman were discussing a cryptographic cash system paper that they had been closely working together on. Wright was begging for Kleiman to help edit the whitepaper and suggested investing in hundreds of computer processors to get Bitcoin off the ground.
This is where things start to get pretty interesting.
The Tulip Trust
In other PDF documents, there was an agreement between Kleiman and Wright for him to take control of a trust that was named the “Tulip Trust” and it contained over 1.1 million Bitcoin.
This PDF was signed with Kleiman’s PGP signature. Interestingly, 1.1 million Bitcoin is the sum of coins that some analysts have suspected Satoshi had mined for himself - but they never moved or were spent.
This would be a great explanation for why the Satoshi funds never moved.
If they were locked into a trust, then nobody would be able to move the coins until the date stated on the document which was the 1st of January 2020.
It would also make sense that Kleiman should be in the custody of these coins considering the fact that he was a securities expert. He was always known to be carrying a metal USB drive around with him and it was suspected that this USB stick held the keys to the 1.1 million BTC.
The Court Case
Well, when Kleiman died, this USB stick went into the possession of Kleiman’s brother, Ira. In February of 2018, a lawsuit was filed against Craig Wright as Ira claimed that Wright had mined the 1.1 million together with Kleiman and is refusing to give up access to the portion of Bitcoin that belonged to Kleiman.
The Kleiman estate claims that Wright transferred the Kleiman BTC to his personal accounts and hid the evidence by backdating and forging a number of different contracts.
As of late-May 2020, The lawsuit is still ongoing as we wait for a conclusion about what is really going on here. The next trial in this case will happen on 6th July 2020.
A really fascinating part of this lawsuit is the fact that Wright was forced to provide all of his BTC addresses.
Well, during May 2020, an 11 year old Bitcoin wallet moved 50 BTC. This address was listed as one of the BTC addresses that Wright owns which could suggest that Wright might indeed have access to these coins in question.
On the other hand, Wright has been known to falsify evidence quite often and he could have just listed a bunch of early BTC addresses and this movement from the 11 year old Bitcoin wallet backfired on him.
- Kleiman was a data securities expert
- There are documents suggesting that he created a company with a self-proclaimed Bitcoin inventor, Craig Wright
- 1.1 Million BTC allegedly locked in the Tulip Trust
- The ongoing lawsuit with Kleiman estate and Craig Wright for ownership
- According to Bitcoin code contributor Jeff Garzik, the coding style of Bitcoin matches the coding style of Kleiman as someone who is self-taught and not classically trained.
- He died broke, surely he would have mined some BTC to keep himself?
- Involved with Craig Wright who is notorious for not being truthful and fabricating evidence to claim he is Satoshi
- People are not sure if Kleiman would actually know enough about coding to write the code for Bitcoin by himself
2. Hal Finney
Hal Finney was a computer scientist that graduate from Caltech in 1979. He was also a core developer for the PGP Corporation and was a member of the cypherpunk movement since the early 90s.
In 2004, Finney had actually created a reusable proof-of-work (RPOW) digital cash system - sound familiar?
Unfortunately, Finney was diagnosed with ALS in 2009 and was in a battle with the disease until his death in 2014.
There are a bunch of interesting facts that have led many people to believe that Finney was actually the creator of Bitcoin and Satoshi himself.
Let me run through them for you.
Running Bitcoin As Early as 2009
Hal Finney was probably the first-ever person to show interest about Bitcoin on Twitter as he posted the following message in early 2009;
Although we cannot be totally sure about the accuracy of the story, it goes a little like this.
Satoshi posted the whitepaper for Bitcoin on the Metzdowd mailing list in which he received 2 negative replies and the following positive reply from Finney;
“This does seem to be a very promising and original idea, and I am looking forward to seeing how the concept is further developed.”
Apparently, he encouraged Satoshi to go ahead and write the code and he actually received the first version of the code from Satoshi for testing. This was one day before he tweeted the message “running Bitcoin” making him the first node to connect to the Bitcoin Network after Satoshi. You can preview Hal's email conversation with Satoshi here.
Two days after this, he received the first-ever Bitcoin transaction when he received a 10BTC transfer from Satoshi. You can actually see the details of the transaction here.
Well, these two pieces of evidence aren’t really conclusive, are they?
It does seem weird that Hal Finney was able to realize the potential of Bitcoin and get involved with it. Furthermore, it is strange how he was ALSO the first person to connect to the Bitcoin network (after Satoshi) AND the first to receive a transaction which was the only transaction that Satoshi ever sent.
If he is not Satoshi then he is still just as smart as him if he is able to see the future direction Bitcoin could head toward.
But here are some more interesting pieces of information that allowed me to connect the dots.
Lived Down The Road From Satoshi Dorian Nakamoto
One strange thing about Satoshi is that he claimed to be from Japan. However, his English writing seemed to be flawless and his posting timestamps did not correspond with a normal person living and working in Japan.
Well, it was discovered a few years ago that Hal Finney actually lived just a few blocks away from a Japanese-American man named Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto in his small town Temple City.
Coincidence? I think not!
Can it be a coincidence that Finey lived just a stone’s throw away from a man named Satoshi Nakamoto AND was the first person to connect to the Bitcoin Network AND was the first person to receive a Bitcoin transaction?
If it can be, it is a hell of a coincidence.
Retired At The Same Time As Satoshi
Satoshi Nakamoto disappeared from the Bitcoin wold during April 2011. Interestingly, Finney retired from the PGP corporation in early 2011 just a few months before the disappearance of Satoshi.
My Take On Things
I just wanted to put my 2 cents into this.
You see, we have to remember that Finney must have been closely linked to the PGP Corporation founder Phil Zimmermann. Well, Zimmermann was publicly taken to court after an investigation from the United States Customs Service for allegedly violating the Arms Export Control Act.
Finney would have been aware of all of this which would be the reason as to why he would want to keep his identity a secret whilst creating Bitcoin. If the FEDS would take Zimmermann to court for just encrypted and anonymous messaging, what would they do to the creator of a decentralized financial system?
So, Finney created a false identity known as Satoshi Nakamoto which he took from Dorian Nakamoto who just lived a few blocks away.
Pretty plausible, right?
It is important for me to point out that Finney constantly denied being Satoshi when questioned.
Another piece of interesting information to come out that takes away from Hal being Satoshi is the fact that Satoshi was suspected not to own a Macintosh PC. We know this because he mentioned it to Laszlo Hanyecz (the bitcoin pizza guy) who worked closely with Satoshi in 2010.
However, we do know that Hal Finney actually did own a Mac as he Tweeted about it in 2010;
Although this is not conclusive evidence to refute that Hal is Satoshi, it does put a slight dampener on the scenario.
- Hal Finney was certainly bright enough to be able to code the Bitcoin software.
- He was the first to enter the Bitcoin Network after Satoshi.
- He was the first to ever receive a BTC transaction.
- He was interested in Digital Cash systems well before Bitcoin.
- He created a proof of work system well before Bitcoin.
- He lives down the street from a man named Satoshi Nakamoto.
- He retired at the same time that Satoshi Disappeared.
- Satoshi’s coins have not been moved because Hal Finney passed away.
- He personally denied ever being Satoshi.
- Hal owned a Mac PC when Satoshi said he did not
- he would have to stage his conversation with satoshi all the time
3. Dorian Nakamoto
Moving onto Dorian Nakamoto who lived just a few blocks to Hal Finney.
Dorian Prentice Satoshi Nakamoto is a Japenese American man that lives in California. Dorian worked as a systems engineer on classified defense projects and computer engineering for financial information services.
As a hobby, Dorian was really interested in train modeling.
So, Why Was Dorian A Prime Suspect For Being Satoshi?
Well, besides his name actually being Satoshi, and him living just meters away from Hal Finney, Dorian came to the forefront of the Bitcoin world in March 2014 when Newsweek published a story called “The Face Behind Bitcoin”.
Dorian was actually a retired physicist and engineer which did give him the possible skills to be able to create Bitcoin. Furthermore, his work on classified projects for the military had people questioning if he was involved with creating Bitcoin through for the government.
The writer at Newsweek, Leah Goodman, investigated Dorian for around 2 months before deciding to visit him at his residential home in California. When Dorian was leaving his house, she questioned him about his involvement in Bitcoin to which he had the following response;
“I am no longer involved in that and I cannot discuss it, It’s been turned over to other people. They are in charge of it now. I no longer have any connection.”
He did kind of shoot himself in the foot there.
The fact that he stated he is “no longer involved” and that it was “turned over to other people” caused a frenzy within the Bitcoin world as many people had suspected Goodman had actually managed to find Dorian.
Well, after the column was published, Dorian came out to state that he misunderstood Goodman’s question - which is pretty understandable considering the fact he was pretty much accosted by a reporter and two policemen.
He claimed that he thought that Goodman had asked about a confidential project with Citibank and not Bitcoin - something that he had no idea about.
Dorian actually went on to sue Newsweek as he claimed they caused him a great deal of stress after doxxing his home address.
It is pretty clear that Dorian is not Satoshi himself and many in the industry would agree with this, however, Dorian is most certainly a solidified figurehead in the Bitcoin industry today with continuous memes being made about him;
Something good did come out of this whole fiasco for Dorian. He was welcomed into the Bitcoin community with open arms and has even spoken at a bunch of crypto conferences. Here is a picture of him chilling out at the LA BitCoinf in 2017;
Additionally, there was a fundraiser for Dorian in which a total of 102 BTC were donated.
- His name is actually Satoshi Nakamoto.
- He lived very close to Hal Finney - the first person to enter the Bitcoin network after Satoshi.
- He has the credentials to be able to create it.
- When questioned about his involvement, he misunderstood and gave an answer that made it seem he was the creator of Bitcoin.
- He personally denied ever being Satoshi.
- Claims he didn’t even know what Bitcoin was before the Newsweek article
4. Nick Szabo
Nick Szabo is a computer scientist and cryptographer who graduated from the University of Washington in 1989 with a degree in computer science.
Nick Szabo has often been the number one suspect of being the creator of Bitcoin due to his impeccable coding capabilities.
For example, he created a similar project to Bitcoin known as Bit Gold in 1998, years before Bitcoin was ever in existence. He also has a law degree and was an avid economist. These three things would most certainly be needed in order for somebody to create Bitcoin.
In addition to this, he was also a member of the Cypherpunks group that Satoshi was suspected to be a part of. Interestingly, Szabo actually went quiet in the Cypherpunks group for a few years but suddenly returned to the scene in 2008, just a few months before Satoshi came active.
Adding further to the case for Szabo being Satoshi is the fact that Szabo is actually credited as the inventor of smart contracts.
Yes. Smart Contracts.
The same smart contracts that form the backbone of the entire Ethereum ecosystem.
If you need an AHA moment you just got it!
One more reason as to why people believe Szabo is Satoshi is the fact that during an interview with Tim Ferris, he was asked about larger blocks and 2nd layer solutions, to which he replied;
“I’d definitely go for a second layer, I mean, I designed Bitcoi..Gold with two layers”
He almost said Bitcoin...but in the end, he probably just slipped up in his words.
Oh, and he has the same initials as Satoshi Nakamoto (SN). Nick Szabo (NS).
However, there was much more to it than this.
Like In A Mirror
Like In A Mirror was a blog that was set up to provide all the evidence that Szabo was in fact Satoshi.
Some of the reasons posted on there were;
“When asked about the identity of Satoshi Nakamoto, NS made a reply that implied he knew his identity. NS never replied when asked directly if he was Satoshi Nakamoto.”
You can see this is in the following Tweet;
The timing of the forum posts of Satoshi Nakamoto indicates he was located in the EST timezone, the same as NS.
An analysis of the content-neutral expressions found in the Bitcoin whitepaper indicates a match with NS’s writing tics, at a level that only has a one in a thousand chance to be a coincidence.
Another interesting find from this research revealed that there was an excellent match over content-neutral expressions between Nick Szabo’s previous writing work and the Satoshi Bitcoin Whitepaper.
Some of these expressions include things like;
- Repeated use of “of course” without isolating commas
- “Can be characterized” frequently used in Nick’s blog
- Use of “for our purposes” when describing a hypothesis
- Using “It should be noted” at the start of sentences
The researcher took things further by utilizing Google Scholar in compiling data about word length and character frequency in the writings of Satoshi compared with a host of other supposed Satoshi Nakamoto’s. It appeared that Nick Szabo had the lowest differential in writings to Satoshi when compared with all the other supposed candidates.
Why Szabo Is Probably NOT Satoshi
Despite all of these similarities, Szabo has constantly denied every being Satoshi.
In addition to this, there are some other developments that we should take note of.
For example, Satoshi had contacted Adam Back through the Cryptography mailing list.
Apparently, through these conversations, Back realized that Satoshi had never heard of somebody called Wei Dai, the founder of b-money (another pre-Bitcoin type invention).
This is interesting because Nick Szabo would most certainly have known about b-money and Wei Dei - which has lead people to believe that Szabo cannot be Satoshi.
He has the credentials to be able to code Bitcoin
- He has the same initials as Satoshi Nakamoto
- He has been involved in the Cypherpunks movement for a long time
- Research conducted on his writings match up closely with those of Satoshi
- He designed Bit Gold
- He personally denied ever being Satoshi.
- Satoshi had no knowledge about Wei Dei, whilst Nick Szabo most likely did.
5. Adam Back
Adam Back is a British businessman and cryptographer and the acting CEO of Blockstream, a blockchain development company.
Back was actually cited in the Bitcoin whitepaper by name and has had some communication with Satoshi himself.
He received his Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Exeter so he is certainly qualified for the role of creating Bitcoin.
Back had also created a pre-Bitcoin digital cash system that was called Hashcash and it was actually the basis for the proof of work algorithm used in Bitcoin - this is why he was named in the original Bitcoin whitepaper;
Back actually received a copy of the whitepaper before it was even published. The fact that he was named in it, had communication with Satoshi, and had previously developed Hashcash had many people suggesting he was the creator of Bitcoin.
An additional piece of evidence to suggest that Back was actually Satoshi was concerned with the writing style of both individuals. Firstly, both Satoshi and Back spell their words in British spelling. This makes sense for Back considering the fact that he is British, however, Satoshi Nakamoto is supposed to be Japanese.
Continuing with the writing style, the fact that both individuals use a double space after every full-stop/period has led many people to believe they are actually the same person.
However, there was some more evidence that came to light in 2020.
Bitcoin - Unmasking Satoshi Nakamoto
In May 2020, a YouTuber called Barely Sociable released a video in which he detailed evidence that Adam Back was actually Satoshi.
Interestingly, the video suggests that Back actually left the public eye during the time that Satoshi was developing Bitcoin in 2009 and 2010. Then, after Satoshi left, Back returned on Bitcoin forums claiming that he had been around for a long time.
Another reason that Barely Sociable suggests that Back is Satoshi is the fact that Back has never released his correspondence with Satoshi like other people have that were previously in contact with him.
There is a whole lot more that Barely Sociable gets into that include the fact that many of the Bitcoin Core developers probably know who Satoshi is and have signed Non-Disclosure Agreements, the fact that Blockstream took a stranglehold during the “big blocks” debate and stopped it to allow off-chain scaling through Blockstream and, concerns regarding the Theymos r/Bitcoin Reddit censorship.
Take a look at the video below;
- He has the capabilities to code Bitcoin
- He was named in the Bitcoin whitepaper
- He created Hashcash with technology that Bitcoin went on to use
- He was in contact with Satoshi in the early days
- He has a similar writing style to Satoshi
- He personally denied ever being Satoshi.
6. Paul Solotshi Calder Le Roux
This last candidate I am about to talk about is probably one of the wildest possible people on the planet to be a Satoshi candidate.
His name is Paul Solotoshi Calder Le Roux.
Firstly, he is a criminal. Which is why he is the wildest person to be a candidate for being Satoshi. He is a former cartel boss, drug smuggler, arms dealer, informant to the US DEA, and is in jail for ordering the assassinations of six people.
On top of all of this, he is a genius programmer. He actually created the E4M program in 1999 which is open-source software for Windows disk encryption. In addition to this, he is also suspected of creating TrueCrypt, a disk cryptography package based on the E4M code.
So, How Did Le Roux Get Fingered As A Potential Satoshi Candidate?
Well, it all actually started in the Kleiman vs Wright court case in which Le Roux was actually named.
This was a very interesting part of the court case because there was a document, Document 187, that apparently includes sensitive information about Craig Wright’s ties to criminals and his involvement in their incarceration.
The majority of the criminal’s names in the document were redacted in order to protect Wright.
All except one - which was left in the footnotes.
Yes, that’s right, Paul Le Reux.
The theory goes a little like this.
Craig Wright was actually an employee of Le Roux and was an informant who helped to bring him down in 2012.
The theory suggests that Le Roux was actually the creator of Bitcoin and Wright and Kleiman managed to get their hands on an encrypted hard drive that contained the 1 million Bitcoin mined by Satoshi before taking Le Roux down.
Unfortunately, this hard drive was encrypted.
Encrypted with Le Roux’s TrueCrypt software.
Apparently, Wright has been trying to crack this encryption for years now and will claim to be Satoshi once he gets access to the coins. This is probably why Wright cannot prove he is Satoshi just yet - because he has not broken the encryption.
But there is more.
There is a whole host of similarities between Satoshi Nakamoto and Paul Le Roux.
For one, Paul Le Roux goes by the name of Solotoshi Calde Le Roux.
Le Roux is also a brilliant programmer capable of coding in C++ as evidenced by the fact that he created E3M.
Additionally, Satoshi’s disappearance lines up with Le Roux’s transition into a cartel boss. It was during 2011 when Satoshi disappeared that Le Roux started to disappear for long periods of time as he was ducking the US Government and lie low.
Furthermore, Le Roux was already a multi-millionaire so he would have no reason to be spending all of the early Bitcoins that he managed to mine.
- He is a brilliant C++ coder.
- He believes in economic freedom and privacy.
- He uses the name Solotoshi.
- He started to disappear at the same time that Satoshi did.
- He was named in the biggest court case in Bitcoin’s history
- He was already drug smuggling in 2009 which would mean he was smuggling whilst creating Bitcoin.
- It is hard to trust anything that Wright says.
We may never actually know who created Bitcoin. I do hope one day Satoshi comes forward and reveals his identity. Or at the very least, starts to communicate with us again.
Personally speaking, the most likely candidate on this list to be Satoshi is Hal Finney. A person who was always involved in the Cypherpunks movement and the first to enter the network after Satoshi.
Who do you think could be Satoshi?