Who invented bitcoin?
The creator of bitcoin is unknown, although there are many people who speculate that it may be certain individuals. Like the reason bitcoin was created, for “freedom and anonymity”, the creator has chosen to remain a mystery.
Satoshi Nakamoto, which could be one of about six million people of that name, is rumoured to be the chief architect behind bitcoin. However there is also a belief that Satoshi Nakamoto might be a pseudonym for a group of inventors who grew the idea that had been floated in the past.
The latest person to claim to be the inventor of bitcoin was Australian technology whiz Craig Wright, who has gone as far as to threaten to sue those who doubt his story. We’re not 100% convinced and Wright is the man, so for now, until or if the inventor joins the public eye, we can only speculate who invented this crypto currency.
Crypto Anarchism and the Origins of Bitcoin
While bitcoin became active in 2008, there have long been people who had the vision to create a decentralised currency.
The term Crypto Anarchism was coined by Tim May in his Crypto Anarchist Manifesto back in 1988. His belief was that an online community could be created where a government is not needed or welcome. In theory this means currency as we know it would not exist. While this is to the extreme length Crypto Anarchists see it as a way of standing up for individual rights in the current day.
The saying “money is the root of all evil” is one crypto anarchists believe currencies like bitcoin can debunk. If there is no physical money and payments can’t be linked to a true identity or location the root of most problems is gone.
The main reason May floated the possibility of a decentralised currency is because of privacy. The question was posed to him: “why do honest people need crypto currency?” and he responded with: “honest people need crypto currency because there are dishonest people”.
In today’s society, cryptocurrencies can play an even greater role than May envisaged in keeping our personal dealings anonymous. In a time when the government watches what we do, when our every online dealing is stored in a server, somewhere in the world, it is refreshing to be able to gamble or make payment for something that can’t be linked back to the consumer. This allows us to keep our secrets, just that, secrets.
May was the unofficial leader of a group called the Cypherpunks, also including Eric Hughes and John Gilmore, that advocated the use of cryptography as a way to bring about social and political change.
Depending on your view, well-known Australian political freedom fighter, or criminal, Julian Assange penned a book called Cypherpunks: Freedom and the Future of the Internet. The book tackles the controversial topic of our relationship with internet security and claims it has become a way for various governments to police our movements.
Quotes from Cypherpunks
“We cannot expect governments, corporations, or other large, faceless organizations to grant us privacy, so we must take it for ourselves,” – Eric Hughes.
“Strong cryptography is a vital tool in fighting state oppression.” – Julian Assange
“We must defend our own privacy if we expect to have any,” – Eric Hughes
“People encrypt for the same reason they close and lock their doors,” – Tim May
Wei Dai and B-Money
Often a proposal put forward by Wei Dai in an essay published on the Cypherpunks mailing list in November 1998 is pointed to as a precursor to bitcoin. B-Money, the name he gave to his idea, allowed a group of untraceable people to trade currency online without a centralised government controlling it.
His body of work described a currency where money is transferred and enforced by broadcasting the transaction to all participants in the network. So rather than a government controlling the currency, the users are in charge. This, while being altered slightly, was to become the bitcoin blockchain as we know it today.
Wei Dai was acknowledged by Satoshi as one of the driving factors in the invention of bitcoin.
Did Nick Szabo invent Bitcoin?
Nick Szabo says he didn’t invent bitcoin. But saying you did would probably paint a target on your back. One thing is for sure, Szabo created something very similar to what was to become the bitcoin blockchain, an unforgeable sequence of numbers that converts to currency.
Szabo came up with seven steps to make a crypto currency called Bit Gold and it bears an uncanny resemblance to what Bitcoin is today. This has led many people to believe that Szabo is actually Satoshi himself.
Satoshi Nakamoto – Individual or collective?
Satoshi Nakamoto’s true identity is a mystery. After far too many hours of pouring over any and all information available about Nakamoto I’m starting to realise that this is a mystery that might even be too much for the prodigal resident of 221b Baker Street.
One thing I think we can safely assume about Satoshi, and parallel to why he or they remain mysterious, is his belief in the need for privacy and autonomy in our own lives. He wants privacy for himself and all fellow people on our planet, which is becoming more and more monitored and invasive by the day.
Bitcoin has achieved this privacy and freedom from organised governments and third parties. Whoever did invent bitcoin has done the unthinkable in modern times and created a 500 pound gorilla that can not be swept under the carpet by governments.