Just the FAQs: What Does Satoshi Nakamoto Have to Do with Bitcoin, and Why Should You Care?
We’re teetering on the brink of World War III in the Ukraine, a cure for the AIDS virus may be at hand and Lindsay Lohan is lurching toward another comeback. But yesterday a far more exciting story was unfolding on the interwebs.
Someone had located Satoshi Nakamoto.
Who the heck is Satoshi Nakamoto?
Satoshi Nakamoto is the inventor of Bitcoin, a virtual currency created in 2009 that has generated a fair share of controversy. (For more on what Bitcoin is and does, see this fine post by Yahoo Tech’s Rob Pegoraro.) Based on sophisticated cryptographic algorithms, Bitcoin is popular among people who hate government-run currencies and banks, most notably (but not exclusively) ultra-libertarians and cyber-criminals.
For years Nakamoto toiled in complete obscurity. So complete, in fact, that many questioned whether he was an actual person, someone acting under a pseudonym or an anonymous collective. Nakamoto has never appeared in public and was last heard from in 2009. Until yesterday, that is.
What happened yesterday?
Newsweek published an exposé claiming to have located the math genius behind the currency. According to Newsweek, he’s a 64-year-old retired engineer living in Southern California with his mother. He likes to play with model trains. Given the current market value of Bitcoin, he would also be worth in excess of $400 million.
Along with his name, Newsweek published the city where he lives and photos of him, his house and his car. That was enough to send a gaggle of reporters to Nakamoto’s home yesterday, resulting in a semi-comical chase through the streets of Los Angeles, documented on Twitter by Los Angeles Times reporter Joe Bel Bruno, as Nakamoto drove off with an Associated Press reporter to get some sushi.
So what’s the big deal?
It’s maybe not so big. This Satoshi Nakamoto, who goes by the first name Dorian, may not be the Satoshi Nakamoto.
The man collared by Newsweek financial reporter Leah McGrath Goodman steadfastly denies he’s the inventor of Bitcoin. In an interview with AP reporter Ryan Nakashima, Nakamoto said he’d never even heard of Bitcoin until three weeks ago, after his son told him he’d been contacted by Newsweek. He repeatedly called it “bitcom” throughout the two-hour interview.