Australian businessman Craig Wright is claiming to be the real Satoshi Nakamoto — pseudonym for the creator of digital currency Bitcoin — in what could end the nearly decade-long mystery over the currency’s true identity.
“If I sign Craig Wright, it is not the same as if I sign Craig Wright, Satoshi,” Wright published on his blog referencing a Jean-Paul Sartre’s saying “If I sign myself Jean-Paul Sartre it is not the same thing as if I sign myself Jean-Paul Sartre, Nobel Prizewinner.”
His claims have been corroborated by key members of the Bitcoin community, including the Bitcoin Foundation’s chief scientist Gavin Andresen, who assumed responsibility for Bitcoin’s development in 2011, and director Jon Matonis.
“I believe Craig Steven Wright is the person who invented Bitcoin,” Andresen wrote on his site, after meeting Wright weeks before his announcement. “During our meeting, I saw the brilliant, opinionated, focused, generous — and privacy-seeking — person that matches the Satoshi I worked with six years ago.”
Bitcoin was the first currency to run solely on cryptographic algorithms instead of on a centralized system like PayPal or MasterCard. According to Andersen, Wright proved his identity using cryptographic verification keys only Satoshi would have known about.
Even so, some are are still skeptical of Wright’s claims; the Economist reported that “Mr Wright could well be Mr Nakamoto, but that important questions remain. Indeed, it may never be possible to establish beyond reasonable doubt who really created bitcoin.”
Wright told the BBC that he plans to release more information proving that he is in fact the true creator.
Wright has been named in the past
This isn’t the first time Wright has been closely associated with the creation of Bitcoin. In early December 2015, Wired Magazine tentatively identified Wright as the probably “genius” behind Bitcoin:
Even as his face towered 10 feet above the crowd at the Bitcoin Investor’s Conference in Las Vegas, Craig Steven Wright was, to most of the audience of crypto and finance geeks, a nobody.
The 44-year-old Australian, Skyping into the D Hotel ballroom’s screen, wore the bitcoin enthusiast’s equivalent of camouflage: a black blazer and a tieless, rumpled shirt, his brown hair neatly parted. His name hadn’t made the conference’s list of “featured speakers.” Even the panel’s moderator, a bitcoin blogger named Michele Seven, seemed concerned the audience wouldn’t know why he was there. Wright had hardly begun to introduce himself as a “former academic who does research that no one ever hears about,” when she interrupted him.
“Hold on a second, who are you?” Seven cut in, laughing. “Are you a computer scientist?”
“I’m a bit of everything,” Wright responded. “I have a master’s in law…a master’s in statistics, a couple doctorates…”
“How did you first learn about bitcoin?” Seven interrupted again, as if still trying to clarify Wright’s significance.
Wright paused for three full seconds. “Um. I’ve been involved with all this for a long time,” he stuttered. “I—try and stay—I keep my head down. Um…” He seemed to suppress a smile. The panel’s moderator moved on.
At the same time Wired named Wright, Gizmodo also identified the Australian entrepreneur.
At the time, Wired’s assertion was only one of many guesses. When Bitcoin was first unveiled in 2008, no one seemed to believe a 37-year-old Japanese man named Satoshi Nakamoto was actually the creator of Bitcoin: His command of English was too flawless, and his Britishisms in source code comments and forums suggested he was from the Commonwealth. Publications floated many names like computer scientist Hal Finney (who died in 2014) or the Bitcoin Foundation’s developer Andresen.
Others said the work was too good to be from one person. And while Wright has been called a genius time and time again, even he said he got help on Bitcoin in his announcement:
I cannot summon the words to express the depth of my gratitude to those that have supported the bitcoin project from its inception – too many names to list. You have dedicated vast swathes of your time, committed your gifts, sacrificed relationships and REM sleep for years to an open source project that could have come to nothing. And yet still you fought. This incredible community’s passion and intellect and perseverance has taken my small contribution and nurtured it, enhanced it, breathed life into it. You have given the world a great gift. Thank you.