The mysterious, anonymous creator of bitcoin, whose identity has been sought by countless journalists, geeks, and hobbyists since the currency first appeared, has finally been uncovered.
Update: Dorian Nakamoto told the AP that he did not invent Bitcoin, and only heard of it when his son mentioned a reporter had called him to ask if the elder Nakamoto had invented it. And now the whole affair is a meme.
The most astonishing thing about the man behind bitcoin, who went by pseudonym “Satoshi Nakamoto” online, is that his real name is in fact Satoshi Nakamoto.
But until journalist Leah McGrath Goodman, investigating for Newsweek, thought to search a database containing the registration cards of naturalized US citizens, no one had bothered to find out whether someone living in the US who is actually named Satoshi Nakamoto might be the guy who invented a cryptocurrency that is now worth billions of dollars.
In 1973, Satoshi Nakamoto, then 23 and fresh from California State Polytechnic University, changed his name to Dorian Prentice Satoshi Nakamoto, and for the rest of his life went by Dorian S. Nakamoto. He was born in Beppu, Japan, the descendant of Samurais and Buddhist priests, and his mother immigrated to California in 1959.
Satoshi Nakamoto is now 64 and lives in the San Bernardino foothills near Los Angeles in a modest two-storey home. He has six children, all grown, and lives with his 93-year-old mother, having separated from his second wife. He likes model trains and his hobby is tinkering with the ones that run on actual steam.
Between 2009 and 2011, Nakamoto corresponded with other coders who worked on bitcoin. His own code exhibited traits of his age and background: It was, by the account of his collaborators, messy.
In 2011, Nakamoto disappeared from the internet and the bitcoin project completely. According to his closest collaborator on the project, Gavin Andresen, Nakamoto stopped corresponding after Andresen told him he’d accepted an invitation to speak at the US Central Intelligence Agency.
According to his own family members, Nakamoto was suspicious of the government, and politically libertarian. He told his daughter to “not be under the government’s thumb,” she told Newsweek. In the mid 1990s he lost his job twice, and at one point his house was foreclosed on—all factors that could have influenced his desire to create a currency that existed outside the influence of governments and banks.
By Newsweek’s estimate, Nakamoto’s bitcoin holdings make him worth $400 million. Whether or not he’s ever sold any—or what he ultimately plans to do with them—remains the biggest mystery of all.