Satoshi Nakamoto, the creator of Bitcoin, is reportedly a 64-year-old Japanese-American man who lives in California, makes parts for model steam trains using computer-aided design, and has spent the past few years battling ill-health, first prostate cancer, and later a stroke.
And, according to Newsweek reporter Leah McGrath Goodman, his name really is Satoshi Nakamoto.
Nakamoto, Goodman discovered, had changed his name in 1973 to Dorian Prentice Satoshi Nakamoto and now signs it as Dorian S Nakamoto. Goodman searched for all Satoshi Nakamotos “both dead and alive” in North America and beyond for one that matched the profile. But when she found DS Nakamoto, he was unwilling to confirm or deny his involvement with the cryptocurrency directly.
Despite discussing his steam train hobby with her, he “ceased responding to emails I’d sent him immediately after I began asking about bitcoin,” Moore writes. And when she goes to meet him “he looks down, staring at the pavement and categorically refuses to answer questions”.
Faced with his lack of co-operation – and a denial, passed through Nakamoto’s son Eric – Moore cites circumstantial evidence to back up her claim. Nakamoto is a libertarian, “very wary of the government, taxes and people in charge”, according to his daughter, who taught his children to “not be under the government’s thumb”. And in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, he worked as a software engineer for the FAA, doing “very secret” security and communications work.
Some in the bitcoin community are wary of the claim – and the desire to uncover Nakamoto in the first place. Bitcoin’s lead developer, Gavin Andresen, who is quoted extensively in the piece, says he is “disappointed Newsweek decided to dox the Nakamoto family”, and that he “regret[s] talking to Leah”.
Members of the BitcoinTalk forum, the semi-official home of the community, responded with disbelief. “The article presents ZERO evidence that this guy named Satoshi Nakamoto is the inventor of Bitcoin... NewsWeek is going to get burned on this...,” said one user, while another echoed comments on other forums that “unless he can do a signed transaction from an address known to be that of the originator of bitcoin,” then they wouldn’t believe the story.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010
image: © Zach Copley