Satoshi Nakamoto is the anonymous name used by the creators of the Bitcoin cryptocurrency.
Although the name Satoshi Nakamoto is often synonymous with Bitcoin, the actual person that the name represents has never been found, leading many people to believe that it is a pseudonym for a person with a different identity or a group of people.
For most people, Satoshi Nakamoto is the most enigmatic character in cryptocurrency. To date, it is unclear if the name refers to a single person or a group of people. What is known is that Satoshi Nakamoto published a paper in 2008 that jumpstarted the development of cryptocurrency.
The paper, Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System, described the use of a peer-to-peer network as a solution to the problem of double-spending. The problem—that a digital currency or token could be duplicated in multiple transactions—is not found in physical currencies since a physical bill or coin can, by its nature, only exist in one place at a single time. Since a digital currency does not exist in physical space, using it in a transaction does not necessarily remove it from someone’s possession.
Solutions to combating the double-spend problem had historically involved the use of trusted, third-party intermediaries that would verify whether a digital currency had already been spent by its holder. In most cases, third parties, such as banks, can effectively handle transactions without adding significant risk.
However, this trust-based model still results in fraud risk if the trusted third party can’t actually be trusted. Removing the third-party could only be accomplished by building cryptography into transactions.
Nakamoto proposed a decentralized approach to transactions, ultimately culminating in the creation of blockchains. In a blockchain, timestamps for a transaction are added to the end of previous timestamps based on proof-of-work, creating a historical record that cannot be changed.
The persona Satoshi Nakamoto was involved in the early days of Bitcoin, working on the first version of the software in 2009. Communication to and from Nakamoto was conducted electronically, and the lack of personal and background details meant that it was impossible to find out the actual identity behind the name.
Nakamoto’s involvement with Bitcoin, however, ended in 2010. The last correspondence anyone had with Nakamoto was in an email to another crypto developer saying that they had “moved on to other things.” The inability to put a face to the name has led to significant speculation as to Nakamoto’s identity, especially as cryptocurrencies increased in number, popularity and notoriety.