The Futile Search For Satoshi

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2 years ago (Last updated: 1 year ago)

When researching Satoshi's identity, it is like looking for a needle in a haystack. Maybe even worse, as Satoshi planted so many diversions that lead the research to many suspects. It could have been a team of course, as reading the whitepaper makes this case.

"We propose a solution to the double-spending problem..."

"We define an electronic coin as a chain of digital signatures."

"The solution we propose..."

"We have proposed a system.."

- Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System - Satoshi Nakamoto

Only one name is given (Satoshi Nakamoto), and maybe using singular wasn't going to look well. Using plural, meant there was a team behind the project. This usually applies better when presenting a startup to those interested. But, this is not evidence of more than just one person being behind Bitcoin.

Satoshi is a very intriguing mystery (that is worth 60 Billion USD today), and there are also so many experts having better information than me. I don't think I can ever find Satoshi and this post will probably offer very little to those that were early in Bitcoin.

As with most discussions on Satoshi's identity, this is a post that covers only some of the parts of the Satoshi story. There is only factual information that can't be used as evidence and no in-depth investigation.

It seems that lately many seem to believe that Adam Back, the CEO of Blockstream, is also the person that created Bitcoin.

First of all, I have full respect for Adam Back. He is a person that has been a big inspiration to Satoshi with the hashcash invention and other notable technologies. Adam Back together with Wei Dai, Nick Szabo, David Chaum, and Hal Finney was a pioneer cryptographer. Mainly due to the double space he is using, he has been the prime suspect for being Satoshi.

I have a lot of doubts about that. There are more clues in the famous YouTube videos by BarelySocial and ColdFusion but I have good reasons to believe this is just too easy, and Satoshi wasn't going to make it easy at all. I may be wrong but it can't be Adam Back unless of course he was part of a bigger team that was Satoshi.

Satoshi took precautions, used Tor and other anonymizing services, and possibly any kind of software and hardware capable of increasing privacy. If Satoshi was Adam Back, or Nick Szabo it would have just been very easy. If it was one of them, the first thing they would have done would be to change the double space into a single one.

Satoshi would not want authorities looking for him, did not want to be seen as a shady person, disappeared right after federal agents had a discussion with Gavin Andresen, and there is also a list of worries he should be having by creating Bitcoin.

  • The persecution of the P2P networks and torrent services. Police raids, arrests of developers and administrators, and the PirateBay trial.

  • The international attention on Wikileaks led to an anticipated arrest warrant issued on Julian Assange.

  • The previous example of E-gold.

It could be that Satoshi while studying Adam Back, created a similar image in his style of writing by using double space.

Satoshi mentions Adam Back in the whitepaper, but not Szabo or Bit Gold.

Stylography is a methodology that could give some answers, but the results when it was applied to Satoshi's writings had given different results. In an article published in 2019, stylometry results found different matches for each piece of data examined.

".. the possible candidates for Satoshi Nakamoto are Nick Szabo, Ian Grigg, Wei Dai, and Timothy C. May."

An unusual result is that Ian Grigg has a similarity score of .99996 to Satoshi’s email exchanges


Adam Back is not mentioned in this paper, so perhaps the research didn't apply to Back's writing style. Maybe stylometry results including Adam Back's contribution in the Bitcoin forum could shed some light.

British phrases - Mistakes and typos

Satoshi's use of British English

  • "labour" and not "labor"

  • "flavour" and not "flavor"

  • "modernise/formalise"

  • "maths" instead of "math"

  • "flats" instead of "appartements"

  • "bloody hard" - Mostly used in UK and Australia, but also parts of Canada, Not in the USA.

  • The Times newspaper reference in the code of the Genesis Block. "The Times" is a famous UK newspaper.

Satoshi sometimes used American English terms too.

  • "as long of a message as you like"

  • "neat" (rarely used in the UK)

  • "pocket change"

  • "heating oil" (more on this bellow)

Typos made by Satoshi:

  • "... a obvious" (simple mistake)

  • " adminning" (a common term used by computer engineers)

  • "walkthough" (simple mistake)

  • "idealogical" instead of "ideological"

Maybe this wasn't a simple mistake. This is the post in question:

Source: Bitcoin forum.

Maybe the word "idealogical" was just a mistake, but the interesting part is the rest of this post. We also see the word "flat" used (UK), instead of appartement". And then the words "heating oil" which is used in both the UK and USA, but in the UK houses use mostly gas. Heating oil is used in premises where no gas is available.

There are around 1.5 million people in Great Britain using oil for home heating. 

- Wikipedia

This narrows it down a lot in case Satoshi is British. But there is also Australia, Canada, and the USA, and perhaps all the world as there is a chance Satoshi is not a native English speaker.

The Nick Szabo and Hal Finney case

The case of Szabo is still the most compelling one. Nick Szabo denies he is Satoshi, but there are so many clues.

Bit Gold

Source: Nakamoto Institute

Source Reddit

Nick Szabo is a first-generation Hungarian, born in the US. He denied being Satoshi although many facts are pointing to him as a prime suspect.

In Conclusion

It would have been "bloody hard" for Satoshi to leave so many clues on his identity, and be the first suspect that fits the description. While nobody can prove anything and there is little evidence in my post, it is the same for any other publication. The aforementioned YouTube videos have done a magnificent job in giving the clues that Satoshi left behind. Probably the most reasonable argument made by BarelySocial is the private conversations Adam Back had with Satoshi and the emails that still are not public.

Finding Satoshi requires a lot more hours of work, than what we have available. It is actually a subject for organizations that have resources and skillful employees to analyze and scan all the data. Even so, it will probably be a waste of resources, since ten years later what only remains is the one million Bitcoins mined by Satoshi, which will probably never move. Satoshi's identity while is an intriguing topic, with all the mystery and the way Satoshi left the project. All we have ten years later is just circumstantial evidence and no proof.


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2 years ago

Ah man, e-gold! What a blast from the past! I remember using it for all of those shady HYIP which paid 230% in 2 days. Aaahh good times! As for Satoshi, everyone knows the SV admitted to being him..... lawl!

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