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Crazy theories and global manhunts for Bitcoin's creator Satoshi Nakamoto

Colin Neagle | March 7, 2014
Newsweek made waves this week with an article that claims to unmask Satoshi Nakamoto, the previously anonymous person whose name was the only one listed on the 2008 whitepaper that launched the modern cryptocurrency movement.

Fast Company followed the New Yorker's piece with one showing its own investigation, which led to three men listed on a patent that used a similar phrase in the Bitcoin whitepaper. Neal J. King, Vladimir Oksman, and Charles Bry filed an application for the patent, titled "Updating and Distributing Encryption Keys invention," just three days before the Bitcoin.org domain name was registered. Adam Penenberg, the author of the Fast Company article and a journalism professor at New York University, contacted King and Bry (he also accidentally contacted the wrong Vladimir Oksman through LinkedIn) and received staunch denials in return. King claimed he hadn't even heard of Bitcoin until Penenberg contacted him.

Penenberg released his incomplete findings only in response to the New Yorker piece, to show the difficulty of trying to break Nakamoto's anonymity and how easy it is to get carried away with conjecture.

"But the point of this column isn't to claim we found Satoshi Nakamoto. It's to show how circumstantial evidence, which is what the New Yorker based its conclusions on, isn't synonymous with truth. I doubt the New Yorker found the right guy. I also believe that our evidence is far more compelling, yet we also probably haven't nailed it either. In fact, we may have to wait a Deep Throat length of time before we ever find out who the real Nakamoto is, and by then it might not matter."

 

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