Gareth Johnson
Gareth Johnson
Updated on December 28, 2021

The cryptocurrency market is worth well over two trillion US dollars according to Coinmarketcap and over one trillion USD of the total market cap goes to Bitcoin (BTC). This is a huge change compared to the first years of BTC back in 2009 and 2010, when Bitcoin was the only digital currency on the market and people were still very skeptical of this new type of currency. Today, more and more companies and large-scale investors pump cash into Bitcoin, calling it the digital gold of the 21st century.

It isn’t uncommon for developers of crypto projects to stay anonymous, but when the average crypto investor sees that a virtual currency developer team doesn’t want to disclose their identity, the first thing they assume is that it’s some sort of scam. This is why many developer teams decide to go public with their identity as a means of gaining trust within the crypto community.

With BTC however, two things are clear: a) the founder of the project, Satoshi Nakamoto, has managed to stay anonymous to this day, and b) whoever the creator of Bitcoin is, they’ve managed to amass an immense amount of BTC. 

Let’s take a closer look at Bitcoin history to see if we can give you any answers on what is the role of Satoshi Nakamoto, who are the people suspected of hiding behind the name, and how much BTC Nakamoto has.

Bitcoin History

The story of Bitcoin began in 2008 when Satoshi Nakamoto published the Bitcoin white paper online, a document that presented the concept of BTC to the world. In the white paper, Nakamoto presented the idea of the first decentralized, digital cash based on a peer-to-peer blockchain network that requires computers to solve mathematical problems in order to facilitate fast transactions of funds. What they presented in the white paper, the idea that people could send each other cash and facilitate payments anywhere in the world through a digital network that’s fully decentralized was so innovative, that many people from the traditional finance industry wrote off Bitcoin as a scam. Bankers and representatives of financial institutions were quick to dismiss Bitcoin as an unsustainable project without real value.

Bitcoin on top of green grass

However, thanks to a dedicated community of crypto enthusiasts, Bitcoin quickly began to grow in popularity because of the blockchain technology behind it. People feared that the blockchain network wouldn’t be able to provide secure transaction services and that cyber attackers could easily steal their assets. The Bitcoin blockchain proved to be up to the task with its proof of work consensus mechanism, which is responsible for checking each transaction and making sure it’s legit.

Every transaction on the network is checked by a network node, which is actually a BTC miner with their mining rig. The rig needs to manually find an appropriate 64-digit transaction hash that confirms a transfer is legit. After they find the hash, they send it out to the rest of the network as proof of work, which is then double-checked by several independent network nodes. Only after this complex verification process can a transaction get approved and added to the blockchain in the next data block. The data blocks can’t be altered after they are added to the chain, which means no one can mess with the data and steal funds.

The working mechanism of the BTC blockchain proved so efficient and reliable that the popularity of Bitcoin just started rapidly rising. From a crypto coin worth barely a few dollars, Bitcoin value exploded to the price of a few thousand USD per coin, all the way to more than 50,000 USD in 2021. 

Who Is Bitcoin Founder Satoshi Nakamoto?

Today Bitcoin is the undisputed crypto market leader with a market cap and price per coin that are far beyond the reach of any other cryptocurrency. Even Ethereum (ETH), the second most popular crypto on the market, is simply too far behind BTC to endanger its leading position. It’s very peculiar, however, that the founder of BTC has stayed anonymous. For example, the creator of Ether is a well-known Russian crypto enthusiast and developer Vitalik Buterin and it would have been very hard for him to stay anonymous because of his role in the development and management of the Ethereum ecosystem.

With BTC, the situation is totally different, because Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto somehow managed to preserve their anonymity, which wouldn’t be a big deal if BTC hadn’t become the most popular digital currency in history, attracting millions of traders, companies, startups, and investors. The fact that Nakamoto remained unknown to the public also inspired Bitcoin skeptics to claim that the currency is some sort of fraud or Ponzi scheme

When Satoshi Nakamoto launched Bitcoin in 2009, they were also the first BTC miner. It’s important to note that bitcoins were barely worth anything when the currency was first launched and Nakamoto had to run the first BTC full network node because someone had to verify the transactions on the blockchain. Being the first miner of Bitcoin implies that Nakamoto amassed a huge amount of BTC during their active days, which was well into the year 2010 when they published their last online message after which no one has heard from them to this day.

Since then, the question of the identity of the inventor of Bitcoin has become a sort of mythical topic in the crypto world, especially on Bitcoin forums and within the Bitcoin community, with non-stop speculations about Nakamoto’s identity and numerous claims that certain individuals are actually the real Satoshi Nakamoto.

Nick Szabo

Nick Szabo is a mathematician and crypto enthusiast known for the development of the concept of smart contracts back in 1996. Szabo’s work is known to have influenced the development of smart contracts on the Ethereum network, but there are also speculations about Szabo being the person behind the pseudonym of Satoshi Nakamoto.

Hands on top of keyboard with programming code on background

In 2008, the same year when the BTC white paper was published, Nick Szabo participated in the developer team of Bit Gold, a cryptocurrency attempt that preceded Bitcoin. Bit Gold had a nearly identical concept of decentralized digital cash that operates on a blockchain network that facilitates peer-to-peer transactions. It was so similar to BTC that the striking resemblance is enough for many crypto enthusiasts to claim that Nick Szabo is actually Satoshi Nakamoto. The whole idea of a linear, chronological chain of transaction data blocks, which are processed through a proof of work mechanism was part of Bit Gold, but the project was never launched. Instead, Bitcoin was launched in 2009 with the same idea, and the fact that the Bit Gold project was abandoned when BTC went public also convinced many people that the same individuals are behind both projects.

Dominic Frisby, the author of the book Bitcoin: The Future of Money claimed in his writings that Szabo is definitely Satoshi Nakamoto, based on his role in the Bit Gold project. Also, Frisby contacted a stylometric professional that analyzed the writing style of Szabo and Nakamoto, concluding it’s probably the same person. Another clue published by Frisby explained that Szabo also worked for DigiCash, a company that wanted to introduce cryptographic solutions to digital payment services.

Nick Szabo however, strongly denied that he is Satoshi Nakamoto.

Hal Finney

Another person who was suspected of being Satoshi Nakamoto is Hal Finney, a cryptography engineer, and early Bitcoin enthusiast. In fact, Finney was allegedly the first person in the world after Satoshi Nakamoto to join the Bitcoin network and become a BTC developer. He was an active BTC developer who worked on maintaining the Bitcoin network and upgrading the software that powers the blockchain. 

A Forbes journalist, Andy Greenberg, consulted a company that specializes in analyzing writing patterns to find out whether Finney and Nakamoto could be the same person, based on their writing styles. The company Juola & Associates concluded after detailed analysis that it is highly possible that Finney is indeed Nakamoto because of the huge similarities in writing style and word patterns. 

Finney, on the other hand, decisively claimed that he is not Satoshi Nakamoto, but he did work closely with Nakamoto. This could explain the writing similarities, especially if the two developers used to communicate a lot, which could have resulted in Finney adopting Nakamoto’s writing style. 

Hal Finney also showed Andy Greenberg email exchanges between him and Nakamoto to prove that he is not the founder of BTC. He also showed Greenberg his Bitcoin wallet and Bitcoin transaction history where it was clearly visible that the wallet associated with Nakamoto had sent him some coins on several occasions. Greenberg finally concluded that Finney was telling the truth and he really isn’t Satoshi Nakamoto.

Craig Wright

Most people that were accused by journalists or crypto enthusiasts to be Satoshi Nakamoto have actively denied it. Craig Wright is an Australian academic who claimed in 2015 that Satoshi Nakamoto wasn’t initially just one person. He said that it was the pseudonym he used together with a developer named David Kleiman who died two years prior to Wright’s claims. 

Man using laptop on table with open books inside library

Wright proceeded to claim that he is the founder of the Bitcoin project and the website Gizmodo published a story of a hacker who allegedly hacked Wright’s computer and obtained evidence that Wright is really Satoshi Nakamoto. Former Bitcoin Foundation members Jon Matonis and Gavin Andresen publicly supported Wright’s claims of being Nakamoto. 

However, many Bitcoin enthusiasts and crypto developers remained unconvinced, claiming that the string of alleged evidence in favor of Wright is an elaborate publicity stunt. Another Bitcoin code developer, Peter Todd, analyzed Craig Wright’s blog, which was thought to have cryptographic proof of him being Nakamoto, and concluded there’s no such proof within his website. Finally, another BTC developer Jeff Garzik also went public with the claim that there’s no actual proof of Wright being Satoshi Nakamoto.

Prominent cyber security expert Dan Kaminsky also analyzed Craig Wright’s claims and concluded that there’s no real proof of anything he said. Kaminsky went even further, calling Wright a con man.  

Despite not being able to prove he is Satoshi Nakamoto, Craig Wright decided to actively sue anyone who claims he’s a fraud and he also registered ownership over the BTC white paper under US copyright laws.

Dorian Nakamoto

The case of Dorian Nakamoto is surely the most interesting one. He is an American computer engineer of Japanese descent. His full name is Dorian Prentice Satoshi Nakamoto, while research by Leah McGrath Goodman, a journalist from Newsweek found that his birth name was Satoshi Nakamoto.

The key reasons that made Goodman convinced that Nakamoto was indeed the founder of Bitcoin were the fact that he’s a computer engineer with professional experience in companies that provide financial information services and he had the same name as the pseudonymous BTC developer.

When information about Dorian Nakamoto went public, Nakamoto was frequently stalked by reporters, who even camped outside his California home hoping to photograph and interview him. During Goodman’s first contact with Nakamoto, he responded that he was indeed the founder of the project but he turned it over to other people years ago. Later, however, during a detailed interview with Goodman, Nakamoto decisively denied he was the founder of Bitcoin. Nakamoto emphasized that he misunderstood Goodman’s initial questions and thought that he was questioned about his former work as a systems engineer for military projects.

After the interview was published, an online account of the Satoshi Nakamoto foundation published a short message stating “I am not Dorian Nakamoto.”

Estimates of How Much BTC Does Satoshi Nakamoto Own

Given the fact that Satoshi Nakamoto was the first Bitcoin miner and BTC network node operator, they surely amassed a load of bitcoins, especially if we take into account the high block reward for each mined block at the time. Nakamoto mined the first block, the so-called genesis block of the blockchain, and many of the subsequent blocks. 

Physical bitcoin with gold rocks on wood table

When Satoshi was mining BTC they didn’t have to share their block rewards with thousands of other miners in mining pools. This enabled Nakamoto to mine at least 1 million bitcoins between January of 2009 and January of 2010. Now imagine how much money those coins are worth today when the price of Bitcoin has broken through the 50,000 USD per coin threshold and even reached an all-time high of over 60,000 USD in 2021. 

One million Bitcoins is a number that makes Satoshi Nakamoto the largest single holder of Bitcoin in the world. It’s very interesting that the wallets which are believed to be associated with Satoshi Nakamoto haven’t moved or spent any bitcoins since they were filled with coins. This means that a stash of at least 1 million BTC has been lying dormant for more than 10 years. In case Satoshi Nakamoto decides to spend their BTC, they would definitely influence the price and market cap of BTC considerably.

A Few Final Words…

The answer to the question of Satoshi Nakamoto’s true identity is something all Bitcoin enthusiasts have been wondering about for years. The huge amount of bitcoin mined by Nakamoto is an even larger mystery because everyone is wondering why those funds are untouched for years. Whether Nakamoto lost the private keys to their BTC or they simply choose to keep them in their wallet as an immense store of value is something no one can answer thus far. Who is Satoshi Nakamoto is something we probably won’t find out soon, if ever.