While blockchain technology has paved the way for many digital currencies, it all started with one: Bitcoin.
The story of how Bitcoin first came into existence is still shrouded in a bit of mystery. And while the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto is credited with Bitcoin’s invention, and has become a household name in the digital currency world, the story of how Bitcoin evolved is nearly just as important (if not more so) to understand.
On August 18, 2008, the domain name Bitcoin.org was registered anonymously.
On October 31 of that same year, a paper entitled Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System was distributed to a cryptography mailing list. The paper detailed a decentralized network that was capable of being "a system for electronic transactions without relying on trust."
The paper was published under the now-famous pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto.
On January 3, 2009, the Bitcoin network officially came into existence when the first block of 50 Bitcoins was mined. Seven days later, the first open source version of Bitcoin was released.
Over the next 2 years, Satoshi anonymously collaborated with developers and coders to improve the technology, growing the functionality and adoption rates of Bitcoin.
This increased recognition wasn’t always positive, at least according to Satoshi Nakamoto.
On December 10th, 2010, Bitcoin received its first major press coverage in PC World. The article highlighted how WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange, were using Bitcoin to bypass a U.S. government ban on credit card donations.
On December 11, 2010, at 11:39 pm, Satoshi posted the BitcoinTalk forum:
“It would have been nice to get this attention in any other context. WikiLeaks has kicked the hornet's nest, and the swarm is headed towards us.”
That was the last public post he ever made.
On April 23, 2011, Satoshi emailed one of Bitcoin’s key volunteer developers, Mike Hern, with the message, “I’ve moved on to other things. [Bitcoin] is in good hands with Gavin and everyone.”
And just like that, Satoshi was gone.
Who is Satoshi?
To this day, the mystery of who Satoshi is remains unsolved. Was Satoshi a man? A woman? A group? A government?
While it’s now believed to be a pseudonym, what adds to the mystery is the extreme wealth that he, she, or they have accumulated. It’s estimated that Satoshi holds around 1,000,000 Bitcoin. At the time of writing, a Bitcoin is worth roughly $7,000, which means that whoever invented Bitcoin is sitting on a fortune worth over $7 billion USD.
While there is no certainty about who Satoshi is, that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of theories as to who and what their intentions were.
Does Satoshi’s real identity matter?
One of the questions most commonly asked by newcomers in the digital currency community is, “What if Satoshi returns to claim the Bitcoin network as his own?” And, subsequently, what would happen to the millions of users that own Bitcoin?
If Satoshi were to reveal himself and attempt to claim his disruptive work, there would no doubt be a great deal of excitement. But nothing will change regarding Bitcoin itself. There’s no way Satoshi could do that, even if he wanted to.
Because Bitcoin is based on peer-to-peer open source technology that is not easily altered or overtaken, Satoshi cannot simply “take back” the network. This is thanks to its innovative, decentralized nature, which was its initial claim to fame. Based on the open-source, decentralized blockchain, Satoshi relinquished control of Bitcoin to the development community years ago.
No matter who Satoshi is, he’s changed the way we think about digital currency forever.
How has Bitcoin paved the way for other digital currencies?
What made Bitcoin so unique in the first place was the technology that powered it: blockchain.
Today, blockchain is the backbone of every other digital currency. Developers around the world are working to expand on blockchain technology.
While Satoshi Nakamoto is credited with originally developing the underlying technology, in the years ahead, we’ll continue to see developments and improvements as companies and developers continue to implement and innovate with it.