Many call this entity the “most enigmatic billionaire” of the modern day world. Known as the inventor of the bitcoin protocol, Satoshi Nakamoto is the name of this enigma. His/their/her bitcoin wallet, filled with over $19 billion worth of bitcoins, remains untouched, and him/them/her untraced.
The name “Satoshi Nakamoto” came into the picture when a white paper on “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System” was published in October 2008. Published on the Cryptography Mailing list at Metzdowd.com, this paper outlined the basics of what a bitcoin is, and how it works (Read the paper here). Earlier, in August 2008, the domain name “Bitcoin.org” had been anonymously registered. Version 0.1 of bitcoin was released in January of the following year. In the same year, the first bitcoin transaction took place between Satoshi and Hal Finney, who was a cryptographic developer.
How is Satoshi Nakamoto worth $19 billion?
Satoshi Nakamoto’s set of wallets contain over 1 million bitcoins — which, as of bitcoin’s December rates — translates to over $19 billion in holdings. That’s a massive amount of money lying unused — Satoshi has never touched the wallet in all these years, and it is believed the coins will remain unused since we’ve had no trace of Satoshi ever since he disappeared.
Based on what little is known of bitcoin’s creator, it’s hard to imagine him developing a sudden urge for the high life. Whatever Satoshi’s aspirations, becoming a billionaire playboy is not one. Given that Satoshi Nakamoto owns more bitcoin than anyone else in the world, the last thing he needs is more bitcoin. But that’s exactly what’s been happening, every week, for the past eight years. Not only has the value of Satoshi’s holdings been increasing, but so has their number. People Keep Sending Satoshi Nakamoto Bitcoins.
Satoshi’s wallet had the first 50 bitcoins that were ever issued and were sent on 3rd January 2009. The transaction is marked as “No Inputs (Newly Generated Coins)”. The 50 BTC this address contains, like that in most of the addresses attributed to Satoshi, have never been moved. As a consequence, one would expect its balance today to read 50 BTC. In actual fact, bitcoin’s genesis address currently contains more than 66.7 BTC, sent over the course of 1,140 transactions.
How has Satoshi Nakamoto remained elusive for so long?
The identity of Satoshi Nakamoto has been the subject of speculation for many years. Some possibilities include –
It’s a group of companies
Some believe that Satoshi Nakamoto is the pseudonym obtained by combining the names of four Asian companies, namely- Samsung, Toshiba, Nakamichi, and Motorola. (The Week)
It might be a woman
His/her identity is known by a few but is protected
Satoshi hasn’t committed a crime; His/her identity might be known to government agencies such as the NSA or CIA but hasn’t been exposed to the public, for, well, protectieng his/her privacy.
Incentives to be tight-lipped
Satoshi has become a billionaire through his innovation. Who says that he can’t spare some of those bitcoins to keep things quiet? It’s possible that those who know him might be under a binding contract that prevents them from spilling the beans.
From the point of time since the advent of the Bitcoin, people have been trying to find out who Satoshi Nakamoto truly is. Many fingers have been pointed and many theories have been put forth. If Satoshi chose to remain in the dark it might have been for the greater good. It seems like a futile task to try to uncover it, especially since he/she/they don’t want to be found.
On 3 January 2009, the bitcoin network came into existence with Satoshi Nakamoto mining the genesis block of bitcoin (block number 0), which had a reward of 50 bitcoins. Embedded in the coinbase transaction of this block was the text.
As initially the sole and subsequently the predominant miner, Nakamoto was awarded bitcoin at the genesis and for 10 days afterwards. Except for test transactions, these remain unspent since mid-January 2009. The public bitcoin transaction log shows that Nakamoto’s known addresses contain roughly one million bitcoins. At bitcoin’s peak in December 2017, this was worth over 19 billion USD, making Nakamoto possibly the 44th richest person in the world at the time.
The very first bitcoin transaction from Nakamoto was to Hall Finney, a pre-bitcoin cryptographic pioneer and the first person (other than Nakamoto himself) to use the software, file bug reports, and make improvements, which he forgot to pay back.