Bits about the great bitcoin mystery

Is he or isn’t he? The man Newsweek outed as the creator of bitcoin told the Associated Press yesterday that he isn’t. Newsweek issued a statement today saying it still believes he is.

Dorian Prentice Satoshi Nakamoto, who lives in Temple City, Calif., said the particularly intriguing quote noted in the Newsweek article — “I am no longer involved in that and I cannot discuss it. It’s been turned over to other people. They are in charge of it now. I no longer have any connection.” — was not accurate. To followers of bitcoin’s history, it seemed to make sense; the online currency’s creator is said to have stepped away from the bitcoin life in 2011, a couple of years after its creation. But Nakamoto told the AP: “I’m saying I’m no longer in engineering. That’s it.”

Some interesting reads around the Internets related to the whole deal: Felix Salmon of Reuters breaks down the Newsweek story in detail, and says the reporting didn’t yield certainty, just a thesis.

But Newsweek didn’t want a theory, it wanted a scoop.

Technology writer Timothy B. Lee says decentralized, regulation-free bitcoin wouldn’t have found success if its creator’s identity had been known from the start.

A strong leader would have been a liability in bitcoin’s early years. As bitcoin’s creator, Satoshi Nakamoto would have had a unique ability to change the rules of the game and get the bitcoin community to accept the changes.

And Kevin Roose of New York Magazine proclaims the end of bitcoin, citing the many controversies swirling around it, including the loss of beaucoup bucks related to the collapse of trading exchange Mt. Gox:

As a revolution, though, it’s already toast.

Roose also says the “wild-eyed fanaticism” of today’s bitcoin faithful has strayed far from the intent of its creator.

The Bitcoin system Satoshi Nakamoto described in 2008 didn’t come attached to a chest-puffing manifesto, an end-the-Fed jeremiad, or a desire to rid the world of government-backed currency. It was a beautifully simple idea: a system that would allow people to send payments to each other without having to go through a bank, using a system of algorithmic matching called a “block” to make sure that people actually got paid the amounts they were owed.

 

Photo: Dorian Nakamoto during an interview with the Associated Press Thursday in Los Angeles. Nakamoto denies he had anything to do with bitcoin and says he had never even heard of the digital currency until his son told him he had been contacted by a Newsweek reporter three weeks ago. (Damian Dovarganes/Associated Press)

Levi Sumagaysay Levi Sumagaysay (3820 Posts)

Levi Sumagaysay is editor of the combined SiliconBeat and Good Morning Silicon Valley. She also helps take care of SiliconValley.com, the Mercury News tech website. Email: lsumagaysay (at) bayareanewsgroup (dot-com).