Satoshi Nakamoto is the 64-year-old son of Buddhist priest, a Japanese-American with a degree in physics who builds his own model trains. He is also, reportedly, the inventor of Bitcoin, the digital cryptocurrency that might still revolutionise – or topple – the banking system.
The identity of Bitcoin’s creator has been a mystery since a nine-page paper outlining the protocol – signed by one Satoshi Nakamoto – was first circulated online in 2008. The ideas outlined in this concise document have since been expanded on by many others, but the true identity of the original writer has so far remained shrouded in secrecy. Various reports have claimed that Nakamoto is the pseudonym for any number of cryptography experts and perhaps even the front for a group of coders employed by the US National Security Agency.
That makes the latest claim – that Satoshi Nakamoto is in fact an individual named Satoshi Nakamoto – perhaps the most surprising yet.
Leah McGrath Goodman , a journalist, claims to have found Mr Nakamoto by simply searching for people of that name in the US, before finding the Stanford graduate living quietly and inconspicuously in Los Angeles.
Writing for Newsweek, Ms Goodman describes Mr Nakamoto as an “extremely intelligent, moody and obsessively private” individual who trained as a computer engineer and has undertaken classified defence work for the US government.
Ms Goodman got in touch with Mr Nakamoto by feigning an interest in his model trains but when she switched the conversation to cryptocurrency he said: “I am no longer involved in that and I cannot discuss it. It’s been turned over to other people. They are in charge of it now. I no longer have any connection.”
While the investigation doesn’t conclusively prove that Mr Nakamoto (who calls himself “Dorian” in real life) is Bitcoin’s sole or original inventor, it does provide enough correlating evidence to suggest that the cryptocurrency community has finally found its patron saint – an unassuming father of six, who is more interested in talking about trains than financial revolution.
Reaction to the story among Bitcoin experts was mixed, with some suggesting that while Mr Nakamoto might have been involved in the early development of Bitcoin, it is possible that whoever signed the 2008 paper used his name “as a tribute”.
Mr Nakamoto will probably have to provide more details about his involvement with the currency just to return to the quiet life he desires.