A new day, a new Satoshi Nakamoto, this time a pretty ‘old’ and well known figure in the bitcoin space who has been very public since at least 2013.
Adam Back, the British C++ coder can easily fit the profile of the bitcoin inventor and certainly has the skills.
“He is also known for pioneering the use of ultra-compact code with his 3-line RSA in Perl signature file and non-exportable T-shirts to protest cryptography export regulations,” says his Wikipedia.
A very old and quickly reverted version of his Wikipedia which is not mentioned in the video says:
“Adam Back (born July 1970) is a British cryptographer and crypto-hacker. As revealed by email leaks in 2014 he also published software under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto.”
You may remember the well known email address of Nakamoto, firstname.lastname@example.org, was hacked back in 2014 apparently through a simple password reset based on passing the ‘security layer’ of adding Nakamoto’s know date of birth, April 5th 1975.
The above wikipedia links to the general announcement that his/her email had been hacked, rather than to any claim in regards to Back. In any event since plenty managed to get access at the time to that email address, whatever was said from it around that time is not credible.
The video references a different email from 2015 during the blocksize debate purportedly from Nakamoto and claims that email is credible.
That email was the usual small blockers talking point with Adam Back being the CEO of Blockstream.
So the video is suggesting if Nakamoto is a small blocker then it is Adam Back with numerous other circumstantial suggestions, including complete speculation. Back says:
“Some of what they google researched is true: I moved to Malta, an EU tax haven – in 2009. Pure coincidence, though of course I did know about Bitcoin in 2008 via emails from Satoshi. I was born in London. I do use double-space and native spelling British. Can code C++.
Do know applied crypto, previous startup p2p networking, did use remailers: operated http://remailer.ch, frequent cypherpunks list poster, very interested in ecash, implemented chaum & brands ecash lib, proposed related proof of work ecash design ideas. Still not Satoshi tho.”
Adam Back is believed to be the very first person emailed by Nakamoto going by what is generally publicly known as he apparently introduced Nakamoto to Wei Dai et al. We quote in full the oldest publicly shared email:
“From: “Satoshi Nakamoto” email@example.com
Sent: Friday, August 22, 2008 4:38 PM
To: “Wei Dai” firstname.lastname@example.org
Cc: “Satoshi Nakamoto” email@example.com
Subject: Citation of your b-money page
I was very interested to read your b-money page. I’m getting ready to
release a paper that expands on your ideas into a complete working system.
Adam Back (hashcash.org) noticed the similarities and pointed me to your
I need to find out the year of publication of your b-money page for the
citation in my paper. It’ll look like:
 W. Dai, “b-money,” http://www.weidai.com/bmoney.txt, (2006?).
You can download a pre-release draft at
http://www.upload.ae/file/6157/ecash-pdf.html Feel free to forward it to
anyone else you think would be interested.
Title: Electronic Cash Without a Trusted Third Party
Abstract: A purely peer-to-peer version of electronic cash would allow
online payments to be sent directly from one party to another without the
burdens of going through a financial institution. Digital signatures
offer part of the solution, but the main benefits are lost if a trusted
party is still required to prevent double-spending. We propose a solution
to the double-spending problem using a peer-to-peer network. The network
timestamps transactions by hashing them into an ongoing chain of
hash-based proof-of-work, forming a record that cannot be changed without
redoing the proof-of-work. The longest chain not only serves as proof of
the sequence of events witnessed, but proof that it came from the largest
pool of CPU power. As long as honest nodes control the most CPU power on
the network, they can generate the longest chain and outpace any
attackers. The network itself requires minimal structure. Messages are
broadcasted on a best effort basis, and nodes can leave and rejoin the
network at will, accepting the longest proof-of-work chain as proof of
what happened while they were gone.
This until now somewhat obscure email is, in our view, clear evidence that Adam Back is not Satoshi Nakamoto because this email tells a complete story which makes a lot of sense.
Adam Back is a respected and accomplished academic and coder who invented a spam prevention method that amounted to requiring some proof of work in order for the software to receive an email, hashcash.
It’s not clear whether Nakamoto came up with Proof of Work himself before figuring out someone else kind of had as well, or whether he came across hashcash.
What is clear however from the above email is that Nakamoto was not quite familiar with the cypherpunks who came of age in the 80s and were at peak productivity in the 90s when generally they were in their 30s.
We can think of a few potential reasons for this unfamiliarity. Nakamoto is either younger, he was too busy with more ‘robust’ and somewhat more ‘scientific’ computer fields, and/or… well Nakamoto clearly has deep knowledge of how money works so he may be more from a finance background but also knows coding.
Previous attempts to create digital money were more code centric and or kind of the equivalent of scanning a paper and uploading it online, rather than creating a word processor.
While bitcoin is a native monetary system, furnaced with a payment system, the boom and bust cycle, the hard money qualities and so on.
In short, the above email clearly suggests Satoshi Nakamoto was not familiar with the cypherpunks whom he perhaps discovered on the way.
It is also clear from some of his early comments that he doesn’t like the feisty attitude or the overtly revolting attitude and seemed to be more focused on the attitude of providing an alternative.
In other words Nakamoto is a genius, and although Adam Back is of course very smart, he’d at best be able to only claim the label of about two degrees below genius.
Moreover, no one uses gmx in the United Kingdom. Plus Back clearly has excellent code expertise, but there’s no evidence he has/had much if any deep knowledge about the matter of money, how it works, or how the boom and bust cycle works or the relationship between money and the payment system, or the role banks play in all of it and so on.
Of course like most he has some knowledge, but the bitcoin design indicates whoever invented it has an expert level knowledge of how the current financial system works in its totality.
But we like our Nakamoto candidates and as a sort of a people’s nobel award, Adam Back certainly deserves it. He is however not Nakamoto in our view because he and the cypherpunks in general were too simplistic in their attempts to create native digital cash to the point they gave up.