3 Facts About Satoshi Nakamoto, the Father of Bitcoin
UPDATE, March 7, 12:28 p.m.: In an exclusive interview with the Associated Press, Dorian Prentice Satoshi Nakamoto denied Newsweek's claim that he is the inventor of Bitcoin or that he has any involvement with the digital currency. AP reports that throughout the interview he referred to Bitcoin as "bitcom" and thought it was a company.
Nakamoto told the AP that a key quote attributed to him in the Newsweek story--that he was "no longer involved" with Bitcoin--was misinterpreted. "I'm saying I'm no longer in engineering. That's it," he explained. Newsweek's Leah McGrath Goodman, who broke the original story, told the AP she stands behind her report.
The mysterious man behind Bitcoin is a 64-year-old Japanese-American who lives in Temple City, California, according to Newsweek. He is a model train enthusiast and has done classified engineering work for the U.S. military.
The man's name is Satoshi Nakamoto, the same as the name on the white paper that introduced Bitcoin, which had been widely thought to be a pseudonym for a person or a group of people. During a two-month investigation, Newsweek's Leah McGrath Goodman found that the creator was able to avoid being identified in part because he changed his name decades ago to "Dorian Prentice Satoshi Nakamoto." He now goes by "Dorian S. Nakamoto."
Nakamoto changed his name after graduating from California State Polytechnic University. He worked in a series of engineering positions on both coasts, including doing military projects and a stint for the Federal Aviation Administration in New Jersey after the September 11 terrorist attacks. Following that, he never got another stable job, leaving him free, Goodman suggests, to start working on the digital currency.
Although some Bitcoin enthusiasts, especially on Reddit, are upset that someone would unmask the person who gave them "the gift" of Bitcoin--it is the apparent end of a mystery that lasted for years. Below, read three facts about the elusive Nakamoto.
1. He won't admit it.
Goodman reports that when she finally found Nakamoto's home in Southrn California's San Bernardino foothills, he called the police on her. After two officers came, Nakamoto came outside. He didn't give her much information, but did obliquely refer to a former connection with Bitcoin. "I am no longer involved in that and I cannot discuss it," he told Goodman. "It's been turned over to other people. They are in charge of it now. I no longer have any connection."
His two brothers, Tokuo and Arthur Nakamoto, say their brother will probably never admit whether or not he is the creator of Bitcoin. "Dorian can just be paranoid. I cannot get through to him. I don't think he will answer any of these questions to his family truthfully," Tokuo tells Newsweek. "He is very meticulous in what he does, [and] he is very afraid to take himself out into the media."
2. He doesn't trust the government.
The chief scientist behind Bitcoin, Gavin Andresen, says he never met Nakamoto or even spoke with him on the phone. Still, he feels like he understood Nakamoto's motivations: "I got the impression that Satoshi was really doing it for political reasons," Andresen tells Newsweek. "He doesn't like the system we have today and wanted a different one that would be more equal. He did not like the notion of banks and bankers getting wealthy just because they hold the keys."
Nakamoto's daughter, Ilene Mitchell, 26, tells Newsweek that her father doesn't trust the government. "He is very wary of government interference in general," she says. "When I was little, there was a game we used to play. He would say, 'Pretend the government agencies are coming after you.' And I would hide in the closet."
3. His love of model trains influenced Bitcoin's creation.
Nakamoto has been collecting and building model steam trains since he was a teenager--he started after he and his mother immigrated to California from Beppu, Japan, where, according to Newsweek, he was "brought up poor in the Buddhist tradition by his mother." His second wife, Grace Mitchell, says that he buys most of his trains over the Internet from England. Goodman writes that Mitchell feels Nakamoto's initial interest in building a digital currency was borne from his "frustration with bank fees and high exchange rates when he was sending international wires to England to buy model trains."
But other factors may have influenced him to build Bitcoin as well. After being laid off twice in the 1990s, Nakamoto fell behind on mortgage payments and taxes, which resulted in his family's home being foreclosed. His daughter Ilene says that may have given rise to his suspicious attitude towards the government and banks. Today, Nakamoto reportedly is holding on to an estimated $400 million worth of Bitcoin.
WILL YAKOWICZ | Staff Writer | Reporter, Inc.com
Will Yakowicz is a staff writer for Inc. magazine. He has covered business, crime, and local politics for The Brooklyn Paper and was the editor of Park Slope Patch. He has also reported in the West Bank and Moscow for Tablet Magazine. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.