The world is little closer to knowing for sure who invented Bitcoin, despite Newsweek’s claim to have unmasked the enigmatic “Satoshi Nakamoto” behind the computer-coded currency.
The magazine relaunched its print version with an ostensibly huge scoop, identifying 64-year-old Japanese-American engineer Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto as the creator.
But the mystery remained after the apparently retired model train enthusiast from suburban Los Angeles asked a reporter to buy him lunch and then denied he was the Nakamoto of legend.
“I’m not involved in Bitcoin,” he told the AP reporter.
Hours later, raising more doubts about the Newsweek report, a web forum where “Satoshi Nakamoto” used to share his ideas for the virtual currency and the computing structure behind it unexpectedly received a curt message on the same Nakamoto account.
“I am not Dorian Nakamoto,” the message on the P2P Foundation members discussion board said.
But neither denial quite settled the matter. There is still some mystery about Dorian S. Nakamoto himself.
And Joseph Davies-Coates, who established the P2P discussion board, said that while the source of the second denial “could easily be” the original Satoshi Nakamoto, there was no way to prove that.
Critics bashed Newsweek for making a compelling but not definitive link between Bitcoin and Dorian Nakamoto, and still publishing his picture and one of his home, while writing that he is worth at least $400 million in unspent Bitcoin.
The report sparked a minor media frenzy at the home, leading to Dorian Nakamoto’s denials and a host a fresh questions.
The Bitcoin Foundation, whose officials worked online with “Nakamoto” to develop the computer code underpinning the currency, said they saw “zero conclusive evidence” that Dorian Nakamoto was their online contact.
But Newsweek issued a statement saying it “stands strongly behind” the story.
Whatever the case, whether or not Dorian S. Nakamoto is the Satoshi Nakamoto, the story gave more prominence to the digital crypto-currency that was created to revolutionise payments and banking worldwide.
In the five years since it was created, Bitcoin has trumped a score of other start-up virtual currencies to gain viability as a means of exchange and investment, if not global acceptance.
Its rise to popularity has been fast. It traded for cents per Bitcoin for the first two years of its existence, and then began a frenzied climb that took it to $40 a coin in late 2012 and $1,100 last year, before falling off to the current $620 level.