The identity of Satoshi Nakamoto, the computer programmer who created the virtual currency bitcoin, is one of the most compelling stories in technology. In 2008, Nakamoto launched bitcoin with a white paper; in 2011, he vanished, just as the project was hitting its stride, his frequent forum posts and e-mails tapering off to silence. (In his last known correspondence, he told a bitcoin developer that he had “moved on to other things.”) The search for Nakamoto has a tinge of irony: it’s an old-school mystery born in an age of Internet-enabled access to all world knowledge, which threatens to make the entire concept of mystery obsolete. An endless series of apparent misidentifications by journalists over the years has only increased the intrigue. When an Australian entrepreneur named Craig Wright came forward last week to confirm claims made by Wired and Gizmodo last year that he is Nakamoto, his name trended for hours on Twitter, while his crisply parted hair and his generically handsome face were on the front page of Web sites around the world.
Then all digital hell broke loose. The bitcoin community is a hive of intensely opinionated geeks, and they began