Profile of Satoshi Nakamoto, creator (?) of Bitcoin

by on March 6, 2014 at 7:14 am in Current Affairs, Economics, Uncategorized, Web/Tech | Permalink

Mitchell suspects Nakamoto’s initial interest in creating a digital currency that could be used anywhere in the world may have stemmed from his frustration with bank fees and high exchange rates when he was sending international wires to England to buy model trains. “He would always complain about that,” she says. “I would not say he writes flawless English. He will pick up words and mix the spellings.”

And he worked in secrecy:

Not even his family knew.

The full story is here, fascinating throughout.

Addendum: Andrea Castillo adds comment.

1 ummm March 6, 2014 at 7:22 am

bitcoin will be bigger than Microsoft, walmart, and google combined

2 Age Of Doubt March 6, 2014 at 8:29 am

Any time someone makes grand proclamations like this, it’s usually time to take a deep breath and look at the facts. No one can know whether something will be successful or not, otherwise every other person would be a billionaire. Claiming it will be the biggest thing ever borders on absurd.

3 Z March 6, 2014 at 10:04 am

How many divisions does Bitcoin have?

4 Todd Fletcher March 6, 2014 at 1:27 pm

100 million, they’re called “satoshis”

5 Skip Intro March 7, 2014 at 9:29 am


6 Bob March 6, 2014 at 9:49 am

Bitcoin wishes to be as big as Segway

7 Z March 6, 2014 at 10:03 am

Perhaps he thinks those three companies are about to go out of business.

8 Just another MR Commentor March 7, 2014 at 8:18 am

BitCoin is bigger than Jesus

9 charlie March 6, 2014 at 7:28 am

One word — taxes.

10 Z March 6, 2014 at 11:43 am

That and it is really easy to steal:

In the very short history of Bitcoin, they have had the equivalent of three Lufthansa Heists. Not bad for a rookie currency.

11 Craig March 6, 2014 at 3:01 pm

I’ve said it before–Bitcoin was designed by people who think there is WAY too much theft and fraud protection in our current system.

12 Timothy March 6, 2014 at 8:25 pm

Eh. I feel ease of theft is not directly comparable in many ways.

I have securely printed cold storage wallets I’ll be putting in the safety deposit box shortly. Difficulty: steal from the bank vault.
You could probably get some malware on my Nexus and steal the DOGE I carry around with me.
My home PC should be much more secure though a skilled attacker coming after me specifically would likely get in.
Stuff I have in exchanges and online wallets depends on their security.

I think it kind of does compare to cash. No amount of identity theft will get you the hundred dollars in my pocket, but you could sucker punch me and take it easily. If you take it and get away unidentified, it’s yours for good. When I give someone cash I do not give them free access to the rest of my cash, but when I pay with a debit card I give the merchant access to my entire checking account. When I pay with BTC I only give the merchant access to the BTC I send them, like cash.

Chargebacks and such are used to defraud merchants.

I think we will soon see crypto depositories (100% reserve) and then banks opening up. The current wisdom or best practice is to keep all your coin on your own equipment, and that’s what I do though not rigorously (I don’t bother installing every client for every coin I pick up a little bit of on an exchange). However, this is not ideal, and if no one else does this in the next 6 months or so I certainly will – I would prefer to have a trusty service with a thoughtfully designed, well controlled and audited technological practice receiving my BTC deposits and storing 50 BTC chunks like ingots on little archival slips of paper generated offline, duplicated in multiple locations. When I want to withdraw they offer a variety of challenges by desire and ability to pay, from “password” to “a guy drives out to shake my hand, take a DNA swap, and get my fingerprints.” If you wanted to go all out, you could segregate the funds, so when I wanted to withdraw an employee in the vault would have to find my slip of paper specifically and scan it. Coinbase is already doing a lot of this.

As it expands out of low-grade internet libertarians with a hardcore DIY trust no one ethos, you will find people like me are very willing to pay pros for the hassle of printing up redundant secure paper wallets and depositing them in secure places, or dealing with non-networked hardware security modules, unplugged USB drives, whatever.

13 Dan Weber March 6, 2014 at 9:02 pm

Chargebacks and such are used to defraud merchants.

And they also are how consumers get protection.

Bitcoin’s security model is different. Not necessarily better or worse, but it is different.

14 Michael March 6, 2014 at 7:36 am

Publishing a picture of his house and enough details of his whereabouts that ardent zealots can find him is the epitome of irresponsible. This is tabloid journalism. I admire the legwork this guy did, but abhor his ethics.

I hope Nakamoto moves, and quickly.

15 Asher March 6, 2014 at 7:48 am

I do not agree with Michael. The guy has a distinctive name and no one compelled him to use it. IMHO this is completely different from unmasking the “Washingtonienne” who 1. did nothing of importance that would make the disclosure newsworthy and 2. went to great lengths to conceal her identity. Nakamoto’s identity is truly newsworthy and he avoided taking even the most basic step towards concealing it. The Newsweek article is 100% journalism.

16 Dan Weber March 6, 2014 at 9:33 am

He did seem to not want to talk to the reporter in person, at all.

There is a photo that looks like he posed for Newsweek‘s photographer, but since Newsweek seems to no longer follow the journalistic standards that the sources of all photos be credited, we don’t know where she got it from.

FWIW the community is up-in-arms about him being “doxxed,” and not entirely without reason.

17 Richard Besserer March 6, 2014 at 9:41 am

The photo is probably from one of his sons and daughters, who were (to greater or lesser degrees) more willing to talk about their father than the father would about himself.

18 mpowell March 6, 2014 at 11:52 am

When you create a multi-billion dollar currency, you don’t get to hide your identify as a matter of courtesy from the media. Who you are becomes a matter of international interest for entirely legitimate reasons.

19 Timothy March 6, 2014 at 7:24 pm

It’s kind of a shit move to post his address and various in such detail. Those are not in the public interest, barring the investigation revealing wrongdoing on his part, of which there is no suspicion.

20 Joe Smith March 6, 2014 at 12:01 pm

“FWIW the community is up-in-arms about him being “doxxed,” and not entirely without reason”

I tend to equate the BitCoin community with the libertarians. How could any self respecting libertarian complain about the free flow of information? How could any self respecting libertarian complain that someone might make use of information once they have it?

21 Richard Besserer March 6, 2014 at 9:39 am

I’m a bit torn, I must say. It’s a bit like finding the Ark of the Covenant. What on earth do you do with it once you’ve got it?

The only realistic answer is: put it away for safekeeping, no “top men” required. On the contrary, keep the top men as far from it as possible.

Congratulations to Newsweek on finally tracking Nakamoto down (if it is Nakamoto—part of me still hopes they have the wrong man). What the rest of us need to do is leave Nakamoto in peace for the rest of his life. He’ll enjoy the fruits of his labour at his convenience, not ours.

22 Urso March 6, 2014 at 11:17 am

“It’s a bit like finding the Ark of the Covenant.”
We’ve reached peak bitcoin hyperbole.

23 msgkings March 6, 2014 at 12:05 pm

Not quite yet, still plenty of posts from ummm to follow.

24 Richard Besserer March 6, 2014 at 4:52 pm

Clearly I need a new set of pop culture references.

For now, let’s be grateful Newsweek’s correspondent didn’t melt when Nakamoto opened the door.

25 matt March 6, 2014 at 9:42 pm


26 J March 6, 2014 at 10:20 am

Not to detract from the bigger question of whether the story should have been written, but I had a hard time getting past this sentence near the beginning:
“There are several Satoshi Nakamotos living in North America and beyond – both dead and alive – including a Ralph Lauren menswear designer in New York and another who died in Honolulu in 2008, according to the Social Security Index’s Death Master File.”

27 Axa March 6, 2014 at 10:58 am

Ohhhhhh, there’s a database named SSI’s Death Master File???

28 gwern March 6, 2014 at 12:44 pm
29 J March 6, 2014 at 2:26 pm

Really I was wondering how many “dead” Satoshi Nakamotos are “living in North America and beyond”.

30 Sir Barken Hyena March 6, 2014 at 10:56 am

I would not say he writes flawless English. He will pick up words and mix the spellings.”

Then there’s no way this is the person who wrote the Bitcoin white paper, which is very well written.

31 Sir Barken Hyena March 6, 2014 at 1:30 pm

This blog post from Nick Szabo on “Bitgold” is the origin of Bitcoin, a year before it surfaced. Szabo’s writing style is an excellent match for the Bitcoin white paper, as shown by text analysis. I think Nakamoto was a partner on the project. But the concept was clearly Szabo’s.

32 TGGP March 6, 2014 at 8:35 pm

Satoshi could have gotten the concept from Szabo.

33 Mr. McKnuckles March 6, 2014 at 2:50 pm

The reporter lied about her identity (claiming to be a model train fan).

Poor form and grounds for firing at the large media concern I work at.

Publishing the town he lives in and putting a picture of his house is also gratuitous.

34 Craig March 6, 2014 at 3:04 pm

I’ll tell you the truth–it never occurred to me that “Satoshi Nakamoto” would be a real person named “Satoshi Nakamoto.”

35 msgkings March 6, 2014 at 3:23 pm

Hiding in plain sight

36 Dan Weber March 6, 2014 at 9:03 pm

According to the AP, he denies it.

I’m not sure that’s true. He could be denying the truth, or the Newsweek reporter could be making it up.

37 Steve Sailer March 6, 2014 at 11:04 pm

I always assumed it was some samurai movie reference I didn’t get. Turns out he’s like half the guys I’ve known my whole life:

– SoCal suburban
– Defense engineer
– Japanese American

38 nike air max 95 March 13, 2014 at 3:21 am

The Dalai clique has been treated coldly frequently while it is still willing to be a pawn for the U.S, it said. Over the past 60 years, the Dalai clique has colluded, taken advantage of and supported each other and internationalized the “Tibetan issue,” the article said.

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