Editor’s note: “My Reveal” was created using an “as told to” process in which Satoshi Nakamoto’s spoken remarks were recorded in a series of interviews and then edited and revised for publication by Ivy McLemore and other members of Satoshi’s team.
The Origins of Bitcoin and My Pseudonym
I am Satoshi Nakamoto.
I always believed in freedom and liberations of the common man. That’s the reason I began my Bitcoin journey. But it’s ironic that I got trapped into something that I’d struggle to set myself free from.
It took me 8 to 9 years to understand and get the courage to fight myself and come out without this erroneous notion about what the world would think about the truth, as truth is always stranger than fiction.
My closest ally and mentor Hal Finney said in a March 2013 post on Bitcointalk “When Satoshi announced Bitcoin on the cryptography mailing list, he got a sceptical reception at best.” Which was absolutely true.
I was adamant that I would create history and I did. However, somewhere down the road I lost it. I forgot who I was and my fight wasn’t with anyone or anything else but with myself. I’m coming back now, not to prove anything to anyone else, but to prove something to myself. No one can defeat you unless you defeat yourself. Period!
The Origin of Bitcoin
Most people think my development of Bitcoin was just a fluke or something that was designed and happened overnight, but looking back I realise that this is not the case. Bitcoin was created through circumstantial requirements, but its current exposure cannot be attributed to design.
From creation to current maturity, Bitcoin’s trajectory has led me to hide and protect myself from my familial judgements, as I could not be attributed to something that at one point in its history had been declared illegal by some governments.
At its conception, Bitcoin was worth mere cents. Later, when its usage was hijacked for illicit means, I made decisions and set off a chain of events to create distance between my creation and myself.
Today, when Bitcoin is understood by the advances of technology, but at the same time is being hijacked by greed, I feel I have a duty to work hard and make my creation better and take its vision to the next level.
The events I’m about to disclose happened many years ago. I have recalled my memories, even the painful ones, as best to my knowledge. The following goes some way towards explaining this journey.
It all began in my childhood when I heard stories from my father about Agha Hasan Abedi, who founded United Bank Limited (UBL) in 1959. My father was a banker himself who worked at UBL for 27 years. He told me about how Abedi changed the banking industry forever. When Pakistan nationalised banking in 1972, Abedi founded the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI). At one time, BCCI was the world’s seventh-largest bank.
More than 1 million investors were affected when the Bank of England closed down BCCI in 1991 because of money laundering, bribery, smuggling and related scandals. I learnt how unfair BCCI’s demise had actually been and that its ending had been in the hands of brutal and dirty corporate world policies and general underhanded politics. Later in life, I realised there were some individuals within BCCI whose malfunctioned practices brought the whole bank down.
The scope of the BCCI scandal made banking history.
My Master’s Thesis
Whilst growing up, I became interested in cryptography, computational/quantum finance, and numerology. These later played a big part in the creation of Bitcoin. For my computer science master’s dissertation in 1999-2000 at a university I will identify later in “My Reveal,” I submitted a draft paper where I had researched DigiCash Inc., an electronic money corporation.
David Chaum, whose vision then seemed to have been ahead of its time, had founded DigiCash in 1989. DigiCash transactions were unique in that they were anonymous due to a number of cryptographic protocols. Although DigiCash had already declared bankruptcy in 1998 whilst I was still completing my master’s, the birth of Bitcoin through my research had already been seeded in my mind.
Upon submission of my thesis, my university felt that the contents were too advanced for marking and I resubmitted a paper instead about a simple web portal as a dissertation project!
Necessity is the Mother of Invention
The final push for Bitcoin to be created came about not only from my own personal banking experiences and my need to redeem BCCI after its unfair demise, but also from the Great Recession of 2008.
On a personal level, when I visited the UK in 2005, no bank would open its doors for me to give me access to a bank account because I didn’t have a permanent UK address. Without a bank account, I had no access to online facilities, and I didn’t know how to overcome this obstacle.
I didn’t like the way banks controlled and utilised other people’s money and I wanted to at least try to change this. I felt like a failure and was humiliated by the banks so I made it my mission to invent something that would enable a common layperson to access money without involving the big banks.
I wanted to empower the poor person, empower the little man, and create something that was accessible as the people’s money – the people’s bank with no boundaries, no nationalities, and no discrimination – where nothing was controlled by the government and where no one dictated and destroyed people for the sake of misplaced politics.
Even a poor kid with limited education could potentially reap the benefits from Bitcoin whilst sitting in China, India or Africa. I was driven to create something that would change finance and the banking world forever and would give people the power, taking away the central banks’ control.
How Bitcoin Got its Name
The origins of the word Bitcoin were derived not just from the IT terminology of “bit,” but because I was obsessed with bringing back the BCCI name to its glory days. While structuring the “unnamed” decentralized digital currency, I was looking at the name “Bank of Credit and Commerce International” and the light-bulb moment came where letters were calling me to pick the name. The letters were
Bank of CredIT and COmmerce INternational.
I was determined to bring back the BCCI name, anyway. But initially I realised this had to be in an encrypted way, as I knew BCCI, as a name, was tarnished.
I had intentions to create a New Age digital bank and to create a system having open-source access, but I had intention to make it more useful and more polished at a later time. For this reason, I registered the domain “bitcoin.org” on the 18th of August 2008 through Anonymous Speech, which did not require the registrant to identify him or herself.
At the same time, I tried to register “BCCI” as a domain name, but it was not available. As an alternative, I registered “theBCCI.net” using my real name (which I legally changed, later on, in the UK) on the 18th of November 2008, a domain which I still own. I will share with you my real identity in Part III of “My Reveal” and go into greater detail, as the dates of the registration of the two domain names on the 18th of August and the 18th of November were not a coincidence.
In Search of a New Identity
At the time I created my alias Satoshi Nakamoto, I was paranoid of my real name as I thought it was synonymous with bad luck. I felt that anything I did with my original name didn’t go well. Every event with my old name was unlucky. I felt everything I initiated eventually burnt to the ground. For example, the university I enrolled in to complete my master’s ended up having government accreditation issues. Whether pursuing higher studies or my personal relationships failing, I attributed all of this to my unlucky name.
I felt more fortunate with my nickname at home, which was Shaikho. It was derived from Mughal Emperor Jahangir’s nickname Shekhu that was given to him by his mother, wife of Akbar the Great. In 1607, Jahangir founded what is now the city of Shekhupura in the Pakistani province of Punjab. Different spellings of the same name occur when variations are created in translations among languages.
Once I had decided to work on a project to create digital currency, I wanted to create it through an alias as I needed the online community to help me. I also thought the only way for it to be successful would be if I changed my name and chose a blessed number in numerology. Using numerology also would allow me to stay faithful to BCCI, but without there being an open reference to a company that was held in low esteem by the rest of the world.
This meant I had to be very careful about the alias I was going to choose. I wanted to select a name which was unusual and intelligent, but which at the same time could be traced back as having roots leading to myself.
The Power of Numbers
It has been said that numbers are bits of information that carry an intrinsic energetic quality and that by studying numerology, you can gain a better understanding of the deeper meaning and purpose underlying our experience.
I have been a student of Chaldean numerology since childhood.
I used numerology as a way to encrypt many of the decisions I made in the development of Bitcoin. The following example will help show how Chaldean numerology is applied with the use of names.
My nickname of Shaikho is calculated.
Then, taking it to the next step in the Chaldean system, you add the digits 2 and 4 in 24 to arrive at 6. Therefore, my nickname of Shaikho is equivalent to the number 24 in Chaldean numerology. And as this name began with the letter S, I also wanted my alias to start with the letter S and with the same number as 24, which equates to the number 6, which is very important in many religions.
While dealing with and exploring the financial world, I heard about Satoshi Sumita. He was often blamed for the easy monetary policies of the Bank of Japan, which gave rise to the Japanese asset price bubble of the late 1980s. Subsequent research, however, has exonerated him. I was working on something which was going to change the world forever and Satoshi was a perfect match with my nickname Shaikho, which was a perfect match in consonants and vowels, too.
My Pal Hal
Hal Finney was an esteemed programmer and computer scientist in California. He was a member of an activist group called the cypherpunks that advocated the widespread use of strong cryptography and privacy-enhancing technologies as a means of social and political change. Hal was a huge help to me. Together, both of us created the first Bitcoin transaction in 2009.
Hal and I began working on P2P Electronic Cash System – it wasn’t named Bitcoin at that point – in 2006-2007 and more extensively in 2007-2008. I proposed a solution about electronic cash which utilised his idea on the Reusable Proof-of-Work system (RPOW) and he really wanted to refine it. Hal was an idealist and a true cypherpunk and he didn’t care whether it would be successful, while my vision was to bring back BCCI in a digital commercial form.
As well as testing earlier versions of Bitcoin, Hal aided me in obtaining remote PCs to work on, as I used TOR, an open-source software for enabling anonymous communication. I wanted to use computers that were not using VPN and were physically on the network and not blacklisted. This is why some people have incorrectly surmised that I worked on Bitcoin from California, but I’ve never lived there.
My Way of Thinking
I spotted the right piece of the solution of the Byzantine Generals Problem in Hal’s 2004 RPOW. That’s the reason he was my closest ally and why I worked very diligently with Hal on many aspects of Bitcoin in its early days of development.
I’m not a conventional programmer or techie and some people have sensed that already, but I’m good on macro-level vision and seeing things on a far bigger scale. I can go to a future graveyard of technology and spot useful things that have been abandoned. But in these things, I can spot the future and build a giant from it, like Lego.
For those not familiar with the BGP, it is a fictitious problem first referenced in the 1982 paper, “The Byzantine Generals Problem.”
In simple terms, the BGP asks the question “How do you make sure that multiple entities, which are separated by distance, are in absolute full agreement before an action is taken?” A practical application of the solution to the BGP is referenced in my 2008 white paper, “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System.”
Of course, I’d love to take all the credit of solving the BGP, but that’s not me, although I’ll give myself some credit in always putting the right piece into a jigsaw puzzle.
I’ve been very lucky in having an eye for smart people. My vision works for me in finding the solution, which was already there, but no one spotted it. I play the orchestra where I know which musician is best to perform.
“Satoshi Who? Satoshi Nakamoto?”
I began work on my idea for Bitcoin with just an alias forename and didn’t have any intention of creating a surname.
I was using only Satoshi in many of my initial email addresses. It was not long after I left the development of Bitcoin that I found all my email addresses had been hacked.
I was very careful to encrypt all communications, even with my closest collaborators, and never revealed any personal details. Gavin Andresen, Nick Szabo and others all know very little about me.
I cannot recall exactly, but when Hal initially saw my name of Satoshi online some time in 2005-06, he commented,
“Satoshi who? Satoshi Nakamoto?”
This must have been subconsciously lodged in my mind, thus creating the surname for Satoshi. I did not learn for many years after I created Bitcoin that Hal lived in the same Temple City, Calif., neighbourhood as one of only three people in the U.S. at the time with the name Satoshi Nakamoto.
The man’s full name is Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto, and he was mistakenly identified as me in a Newsweek cover story in 2014. It has been speculated that I sent an email from my old Satoshi address at the time that said, “I am not Dorian Nakamoto.” I am not that individual, but I also didn’t send that email.
I was paranoid in those days, but Hal didn’t know that and neither was he interested in asking irrelevant questions. When I firstly communicated to him and he gave me my surname Nakamoto, he did ask where I was from and my answer was that I’m from Asian ancestry. He assumed that as Japanese because of my pseudonym. Hal was the only one who I told about my actual ancestry.
Satoshi + Nakamoto = 55
When deciding on an alias surname, I wanted a master numerological name which had two Mercury numbers (5) associated with it. Mercury is the messenger of God in astrology. The number 55 represents the total and complete man and is symbolized by the two hands – 10 fingers — that join at the moment of prayer. In Chaldean numerology, a person with a 55 name is said to have the power to defeat any enemy he faces.
I also liked the first verse from the Torah/Bible’s Isaiah Chapter 55. This verse is very close to my heart, as I wanted to create something for people with no money or for people to mine their own money.
“Come, all you who are thirsty,
come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without cost.”
So this is how the name Satoshi Nakamoto came into existence. “Satoshi” means “clear thinking, quick witted; wise” – “Naka” means “medium, inside, or relationship” and “Moto” means “origin” or “foundation.” Satoshi on its own was also the number 24 in Chaldean numerology, which is the same as my nickname Shaikho’s number 24, and Satoshi Nakamoto is the number 55!
A Complementary Team
My work on the development of Bitcoin was the time I learnt more about C++ code, but Hal was on the next level. He was my Steve Wozniak who worked tirelessly on the vision I was feeding him. I always looked at how it would be successful commercially with a vision to change the financial world while he looked at the technical aspects.
Hal allowed me to pick and choose what I thought best for the project. Because I had to coordinate mostly with Hal, I operated in-between his time zone (U.S. Pacific Time) or sometimes the UK time zone because of my traveling. I also shared with him my concern about not using my laptop for long hours and also for my IP not being traced as I was working from Pakistan and later going back and forth between Pakistan and the UK.
Hal arranged a few computers for me to work on as I was using an old Fujitsu Lifebook and that laptop was very slow. One can imagine that even at the beginning of 2009, I was running this laptop with XP SP2 and not XP SP3. That laptop had a small-capacity disk that could be observed in my email exchange with Hal. Any heavy task was done on the remote desktop that Hal gave me through remote desktop software to access, and those computers were in different parts of the U.S.
Thank You, My Friend
Hal knew from day one that I was neither a cypherpunk nor a hard-core techie, but he always said that he liked my sincerity and smartness in things that no one else could envision. He liked when I talked about signs in people and he mentioned that in his last post on the 19th of March 2013 on Bitcointalk.
“Today, Satoshi’s true identity has become a mystery,” he said. “But at the time, I thought I was dealing with a young man of Japanese ancestry who was very smart and sincere. I’ve had the good fortune to know many brilliant people over the course of my life, so I recognize the signs.”
I think he used this post as a way to communicate with me, as he knew all my emails had been hacked. Unfortunately, by the time I looked at the post in 2015, he was gone forever.
When I read about Hal’s death in 2014 from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), the same disease that last year claimed the renowned physicist Stephen Hawking, I thought I should come out and say something. But I kept asking if revealing myself then was worth the risk.
I owe Hal a lot. He was a true genius. At some point in my life, if I can do something so people remember him by, I’ll do so.
Editor’s note: “My Reveal” was created using an “as told to” process in which Satoshi Nakamoto’s spoken remarks were recorded in a series of interviews and then edited and revised for publication by Ivy McLemore and other members of Satoshi’s team.
Note: This combines Part II and Part III of a three-part series in which Satoshi Nakamoto discloses previously unknown facts about his creation of Bitcoin. He also reveals the status of his 980,000 bitcoins and his real-life identity. These two parts are being combined because of the overwhelming interest we have received.
Parts IIand III
My 980,000 Bitcoins and My Real Identity
First, A Timely Note
I’m grateful for the people who sent me one simple line of “Thank you!” after reading Part I of “My Reveal.” I truly appreciate it. That’s the reason I’m coming back to people like them and to make a difference in people’s lives.
And now for the cynics, I was expecting this reaction. Some think that going on-to my website through archive.org makes them laugh at me questioning why didn’t I write Bitcoin and leave a note about being Satoshi Nakamoto with my mobile number on it! Also regarding the petty issues like spelling mistakes and network outage, keeping in mind, it’s all been communicated through a professional team and we had tremendous traffic load to deal with but the team were resilient in posting everything smoothly. There’ll be many mistakes made in this journey and we will fix them because our purpose is genuine, taking Bitcoin to the next level.
For these trolls, I’ll quote myself when I said on July 29, 2010, “If you don’t believe me or don’t get it, I don’t have time to try to convince you, sorry.”
I’ll also quote myself again when I said on Nov. 14, 2008, “It’s very attractive to the libertarian viewpoint if we can explain it properly. I’m better with code than with words though.” Hence I hired a PR company to express my vision in the best possible way and I’m compelled to say that Ivy and his team are working tirelessly to take my vision forward for the common people.
I just want to add that everything I did in my hiatus years was either to hide my Satoshi ID or just to experiment something new. I began my normal 9-5 job with a public organisation in 2011 and I didn’t want to gain any monetary benefits from any venture, hence I was either experimenting on my thoughts or products which will work for me like the way NeXT did for Steve Jobs.
I’m adamant to provide a “secure future” to our next generations, far from the online abuse and trolling of our children.
Numbers Fascinate Me
As an avid lover of numerology and astrology, I use both in my day-to-day life. I do believe God is the ultimate mathematician, as everything around us can be viewed as numbers.
God created this world in 6 days. There are 6 working days of the week in different religions. There are the 6 days of the 6 branches of the Menorah, there are 24 books in the Tanakh, and there are 24 Kohanic gifts.
There are many different spoken languages in the world, but the language of numbers is universal. Numbers have no accents or dialects. Our names even convert to numbers. When you study religions, they all view numbers as important.
When I was working on the idea of Bitcoin, numbers were sending me strong signals. My names, email addresses, dates of domain registration – everything is connected to numbers. One or two encryptions may be seen as coincidence, but not the full list.
BCCI = 9
In Chaldean numerology, BCCI is equivalent to the number 9 where the vowels equate to the number 1 and the consonants equate to the number 8. It is the reason I kept the length of the original 2008 Bitcoin white paper to nine pages.
Bitcoin and “theBCCI” = 23
The number 23 is important to me as 2+3=5. The number 5 is related to the planet Mercury, known in astrology as the Messenger of God. Therefore, the number 5 has a powerful significance to me.
The choice of deriving the term “Bitcoin” from BCCI (the Bank of Credit and Commerce International) was because, in Chaldean numerology, the word Bitcoin is equivalent to the number 23, the digits of which when added together equate to the number 5. I wanted to equate the BCCI name to Bitcoin name, so I added “The” with BCCI. Though I first registered B-C-C-I as a domain name, “theBCCI” is equivalent to number 23.
The Bitcoin Limit of 21 Million
In the eight years since I left my creation, there has been much wild speculation about many things connected to Bitcoin. When people don’t have anyone to turn to for factual answers, imaginations can run wild. Social media can magnify the confusion.
As an example, an online article about a month ago went into a detailed, purely speculative explanation of how I chose 21 million for Bitcoin’s supply limit.
In simple terms, and using Chaldean numerology as my guide, I determined the Bitcoin supply limit of 21 million in two ways that led to the same outcome.
21 is the total of the November 18, 2008, registration date of the domain name the BCCI.net owned with my real name. I wanted to leave a signature behind. (18-11-2008 is 1 + 8 + 1 + 1 + 2 + 0 + 0 + 8 = 21)
21 is the number of Jupiter (3), the ruling sign of wealth and the same as my mother’s name, which in Urdu means Jupiter (the digits in 21 represent 2 + 1 = 3).
I began working on the decentralised digital currency in 2007. While the recession fiasco of 2008 was taking place, on the 31st October 2008, I published the white paper “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System.” There was a reason to choose this date as this sums up to 15, which is the same as the Bank of Credit and Commerce’s numerology number.
I chose vowels number 32=23, for theBCCI.net and bitcoin.org.
I opted for 3rd of Jan 2009 (3-1-2009, or 3 + 1+ 2 + 0 + 0 + 9 = 15) as the creation date of the Genesis Block for Bitcoin.
On 3rd of Jan 2009, I looked at The Times newspaper and saw the headline that I hinted in the Genesis block code, “The Times 03/Jan/2009 Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks.”
Email Addresses and DOB
I saw somewhere that people couldn’t understand my reasoning for using the username SatoshiN and email as SatoshiN@gmx.com in my Bitcoin white paper in 2008 and not any other email address.
I did so because the 29th is the day I was born and 55 is the number for Satoshi Nakamoto and for SatoshiN@gmx.com.
I am three years younger than the April 5, 1975, date of birth listed on my public profile. My actual date of birth is September 29, 1978, or 9-29-1978. If you calculate all these numbers, and this was in my mind as a way to maintain my anonymity, 9 + 2 + 9 + 1 + 9 + 7 + 8 = 45.
While doing research for April 5th, I found two important dates for gold and changes in the rules for people to handle their personal wealth. On April 5, 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued an executive order making it illegal in the U.S. to own gold. And in 1975, Americans once again enjoyed their right to do so. If you calculate the 5th of April 1975 in numerology, it becomes number 42 and 4 + 2 = 6.
Bitcoin’s Developmental Phase
By 2009, I had finished many of the initial developmental tasks on the Bitcoin code with the help of many talented international contributors, taking my early vision to its end. Whilst dealing with the various contributors, I was fairly paranoid and protective about my identity and about sharing knowledge with other developers, which was on a need-to-know basis.
Quite often, the other developers who I involved in the initial stages worked only on certain sections of the developmental phase, not knowing the full picture. This often meant I had to be very assertive in my dealings with the developers without revealing too much to any one of them.
I quite rightly had many fears, even as a person who was always very liberal and who loved human beings regardless of their creed, religion, sect or nationality. But at the same time, I observed how some people could give a positive thing negativity.
I had this in mind when I was creating Bitcoin, a currency that in my vision was a revolution, but at the same time founded by a then Pakistani. I derived its name and inspiration from a bank that the mainstream media declared as an “evil” bank, so looking back you can understand my fears.
When my original email addresses were hacked, I saw some emails circulating from some imposters pretending to be me. People don’t realise that just typing two spaces after a full stop doesn’t make them me, as there were reasons behind it. When I was developing Bitcoin, I’d go into Satoshi mode when writing each email.
My mother tongue is not English. When I was growing up, my experience was that the society I was in was very judgemental about how you read, write, and speak in English.With this in mind, I was really conscious of my use of language. I would spend hours in front of the mirror trying to perfect my accent and pronunciation. Throughout my life, I have worked really hard to improve and better myself.
When I began working on the e-currency project, I was very careful as almost all of the people were from the West and I didn’t want to come across as a guy who isn’t good in the English language. I used to ask for help from some English people; some of them were good English literature teachers. I used to send different people two three-lined paragraphs to correct so they couldn’t understand exactly what I was working on and they would then return the correct version.
I cannot recall the names of the people I sent the corrections to or people who I saw personally, but if they were to recognise me, I would be more than welcome to meet them.
People who are now in their 50s were trained on typewriters. My generation was trained on computers. On typewriters, people were trained to leave two spaces, so the returned paragraphs from the English helpers had two spaces after a full stop.
This was a unique aspect for me, so I adopted that as my signature writing for Satoshi Nakamoto and also to make myself look older than my real age at that time.
In my hiatus years, I was so conscious about Satoshi Mode that I purposely began writing English in a very ungrammatical way, along with spelling mistakes and sometimes even leaving no spaces after periods! I purposely tried to make my English writing weak because I just didn’t want to come across as a person who writes like myself (Satoshi). I was so paranoid not to be identified as Satoshi that I wanted to downplay everything.”
Bitcoin was my passion. My vision was that one day it would change the whole banking system. But the irony was that in 2008-9, I was going through serious financial problems myself. I had come to the UK to visit my ex-partners in a business venture I had started with them. But in reality, I was broke financially and personally. On top of it all, I was at the point in my life where everything I did was a failure.
I had many setbacks in the several ventures I tried, be it setting up and working in medical transcription/electronic health records, or VoIP or broadband, or hedge fund /financial management/debt management businesses.
In everything I came across, all I experienced were big losses, betrayals, and deceit. But in the end, I always clung to the invaluable experience I had gained in the diversified business fields I tried.
One thing built inside of me is that I am a fighter. I have always envisioned something beyond this life that has a greater purpose. In January and February 2009 in the UK, the weather was very cold. There was a bad snowstorm in February and I was penniless.
I remember walking on a street at night with some guy while it was snowing and I thought one day Bitcoin (BCCI) will take over all these banks that are holding me back now. In mid-2009, I met my future wife and I knew straightaway that I wanted to settle down and have some peace in my life instead of exerting time and effort into my ventures.
The process of me settling down in Britain began in 2010.
So I made the decision to invest in my personal/domestic life and live a peaceful life at home and not delve into the fanciful world of Bitcoin, which it was at that time.
I mined 980,000 Bitcoins using a remote computer and my laptop in 2009. As Hal Finney explained this in his 2013 Bitcointalk post quite accurately, “those were the days when difficulty was 1, and you could find blocks with a CPU, not even a GPU.” I learnt over the years never to leave important data on a remote or old/redundant hard drive, as it can be recoverable after normal format/deletion.
I experimented on the Gutmann Method and other methodologies/algorithms on how to delete data permanently from HDD or remote computers as I was also experimenting on many ways to secure the wallets for Bitcoin and how not to leave important Bitcoin data.
I was so conscious not to leave the wallet.dat file or private keys in redundant or backup hard drives, as there were no secure cloud platforms at that point. And, as I described earlier, I was truly paranoid.
Firstly, I transferred all the relevant files to my Fujitsu Lifebook laptop and then to a refurbished Acer Aspire laptop that I had bought online from a well-known chain in the UK. I’d often leave the Acer laptop running overnight to conduct tests before transferring all the precious data. After transferring files from the remote PC, I wiped all the data from it permanently. I was very careful never to leave data that was recoverable on any remote PC or old laptop. Every PC I used remotely was wiped clean in a short period of time, securely and permanently.
The Ominous Blank Screen
One morning in 2010, I woke up and my Acer had a blank screen. I thought, “What’s going on?” The night before, I had just moved wallet.dat file after all the major tests on the laptop and everything was working fine. As I mentioned before, I had a habit of not leaving any trace and I was over-the-top cautious as I knew I was dealing with files that can be traced through recovery software, so I deleted the files securely and permanently from my Fujitsu Laptop.
My gut instinct was saying, “Don’t delete it!” As Bitcoin was in its early stages, my understanding was that copying the same wallet.dat to two different computers initially seemed to work, but if you continue to use Bitcoin client to send Bitcoin, the two copies will be out of sync.
I was heavily involved with testing the client at this point. I felt that the Fujitsu was on its last legs and I didn’t want to mess with the chain of blocks. Therefore, I transferred the file and formatted the Fujitsu’s hard drive permanently. This was done after I had performed rigorous tests on the Acer Aspire laptop, as I wanted to ensure that everything was running smoothly before I removed the data permanently on the Fujitsu.
The morning I saw something was not right with the display, I rang the support guys. They asked me to send the laptop in as it was under warranty. They said they’d have a look.
Very anxious, I rang the support guys the next day. They said they were looking into it and would get back in touch ASAP. They asked me to ring them back in 48 hours. I rang them again 48 hours later and they informed me they had good news! The hard drive was packed in and they had replaced the hard drive free of charge and sent the laptop on its way back.
Reality Sets In
I never thought that the hard drive was bad as I had performed rigorous tests on it only days before. I had assumed they would repair either the display or RAM or graphics chip and send it back. This had happened before to my Fujitsu and resetting the RAM solved the issue. I also did not want to open the laptop, as it had a warranty sticker on the back.
My everything was in that hard drive! It was military-grade encrypted and password protected, so I was overly confident – to the point of being arrogant – that the techie guys could not have access to my HDD data. That’s why I left the HDD inside the laptop and didn’t take it out. The laptop came back by courier a few days later and it contained a new HDD and, of course, the bitcoins weren’t there!
I mentioned my mistake in a somewhat cryptic post I made on Bitcointalk in October 2010.
I had a paralysis attack that day. My legs were not working.
But what could I do? I tried to go into my old laptop and see if I could do some magic, but I could not. At that time, retrieval software was limited and I was having a dose of my own medicine. In hindsight, I should have had bought a £30 GBP printer to at least print my private keys.
A Valuable Life Lesson
Looking back now, should I have done some basic HDD checks when the screen went blank? Yes. How can be a very smart guy, founder of Bitcoin, make such a stupid, costly mistake? Should I have consulted with Hal? I didn’t because I felt I had let Hal down for making such a root-level mistake. I didn’t want to tell anyone or consult anyone, as I felt humiliated. I abruptly stopped communicating to Hal, and this was one of the main reasons I went into self-exile.
I left and didn’t mine any more bitcoins. I have blamed myself for the last eight or nine years and learnt these are the moments that are the mysteries of life and this patient needed the bitter pill.
People should realise that arrogance can lead you to make one mistake, no matter how smart you are, which can change things forever. I have learnt the hard way that humility is the best policy.
On December 17, 2017, Bitcoin reached its historical peak value of $19,783.06, meaning my 980,000 bitcoins would have been worth more than $19 billion – $19,387,398,800 to be precise. To this day, the memory of recalling all this information is very painful. I could not forgive myself all these years. Now, the very reason I left Bitcoin is the reason for my comeback as I have accepted the truth and will try to make Bitcoin better.
Today, some people claim they are Satoshi, but they don’t want to move any coin because they don’t know the all the facts.
I challenge them to move even 0.0001 bitcoin from my lost fortune and I will literally call them my Guru.
Here I was, the founder of Bitcoin, with the 980,000 bitcoins to my name lost in the ether world. In the meantime, Bitcoin had taken a turn for the worse and was growing within the marketplace all for the wrong reasons. The last straw for me was in 2011 when Gavin Andresen, one of the prominent early software developers who helped me, decided to talk to the CIA about Bitcoin.
At this stage, I already wanted to create a distance between Bitcoin and myself. The illicit usage of Bitcoin was not something I wanted to be associated with. It was no longer important for me to invest my energies into this as a venture as it was not yielding any financial gains for me.
More importantly, I didn’t see myself worthy as I was already blaming myself for doing such a root-level mistake, losing my Bitcoin fortune in a most bizarre way.
I honestly thought people like Hal, Gavin and Mike Hearn were better than I, and I felt that my purpose was fulfilled.
I just wanted to run away from the world of Bitcoin. I withdrew completely from Bitcoin and anything related to it.
I had never created Bitcoin for any wrongdoing. I only wanted to help the common man.
At this stage of my life, I was mentally and physically on the verge of collapsing. The pressure was building for me to do the right thing and to stabilize my domestic life.
On April 23, 2011, I sent my last email as Satoshi Nakamoto to Mike Hearn and a few other developers to say that I was moving on to other things and that I knew Bitcoin was in good hands with people like Gavin Andresen. I gave up the domain Bitcoin.org, but kept the domain name theBCCI.net.
I wanted to have a connection with Bitcoin, but somehow forced myself into self-exile. Yet I wanted to utilise theBCCI.net domain so I formed a few web presences such as The Boston Group, Alexander Hawthorn and Sysres to partake in different areas of business.
Thereafter, I chose not only to be anonymous, but also to go into silent mode for the next five years or so. The domain names above were dormant, too. I was trying to move into new territories and get away from my own creation, hence I created the above and many other dormant ideas and domains.
Hakuna Matata Years
Towards the end of 2011, I wanted a job where I served people, so I joined the National Health Service (NHS), the world’s largest single-payer healthcare system and the biggest employer in UK. It’s a nationally prestigious organisation with an overall annual budget of more than £125 billion GBP.
My job at NHS? I was a support analyst in the NHS! Here I was performing work that, helped me overcome my misery which I felt when I lost all my fortune as I was helping indirectly patients, doctors, management, I chose this root level job to begin another life from scratch as I did PC support jobs in the beginning of my career but later in life I had more exposure towards Electronic Health Records.
This is when I began a very normal life that I call my hakuna matata phase. All that had been important as a single man was no longer a priority. I didn’t even check my Satoshi emails for months. Even when I tried checking at some point in 2012, I realised that I couldn’t access them. I thought that either I had lost my password or someone had hacked the account. Either way, I thought of this as a blessing in disguise and didn’t bother trying to regain access.
Now my priorities were as a simple person who began his very normal life, serving people in a different capacity. At NHS, I worked fixing PCs, helping infrastructure, attending board meetings, creating project boards, programme management, project management, and cost-improvement programmes. I consoled myself it was all about helping the needy ones whilst earning a real living wage.
In my hiatus years, I had a lethal back injury and was bedridden for almost 10 months starting in May 2015. I endured painful back surgery in December 2015 and spent the next few months in recovery. I had a lot of time to think. This time changed my outlook forever on many things. I realised just how fragile and unpredictable life is.
Around this time, I felt that I had let my initial vision down, so with a back injury and with limited options, I decided to start over. I began working on the Bitcoin/Blockchain project again and created the world’s first centralised Crypto/Blockchain framework (AnnurcaCoin – which I didn’t publish). I was working on the next phase of Bitcoin/Blockchain that again I hoped would transform the world.
I persisted on working within the public sector as I continued my mental and physical recovery. I worked on the project in my free time. At this point, I had no intention of being enticed by any monetary benefits from my project while working for NHS. It was not possible for me, even if I had wanted to, because it would have created a conflict of interest at work.
At about the same time, I took stock of how the world was reacting to Bitcoin. I started to contemplate a reveal of my identity to others in 2016, but for various reasons it was hard for me to do as I had a lot to lose at this stage of my life. And for all the above reasons, it was increasingly hard for me to make definitive claims as to who I was.
I had lost my original emails because my email accounts were hacked, I had lost my 980,000 bitcoins because of the hard drive crashing, and I had no digital signature because I never planned to reveal myself.
I kept working on different things connected to Bitcoin and Blockchain as I wanted to do something better than before and which added value to what we now have and not just to replicate things. This drive came from not wanting to prove my worth to the world, but to prove my worth to myself.
A Period of Invention and Reinvention
I again got involved with a really good team of professionals and I invented the world’s first Artificial Intelligence-based crypto investment management platform. I also was working on inventing some really innovative crypto-blockchain frameworks like the world’s first Big-Data Analytics-based hedge fund management blockchain platform and the world’s first full gold value chain blockchain platform. This is where I realised and rediscovered the potential of IBM-Hyperledger and Ethereum frameworks and how these frameworks had been victims of the same neglect, greed and incompetence as Bitcoin.
At the same time, I continued to apply for work at many companies which claimed to have innovation in Blockchain to see if my technological and financial acumen and expertise could help the Blockchain industry and for me to do what I loved the most in life. However, I found that almost all of these companies rejected me to work for them on the grounds that when I explained Blockchain-related questions, they felt I did not answer them sufficiently.
I found this situation in itself ironic as many companies went through the new craze of initial coin offerings (ICOs), but they were giving nothing back to the common man. It seemed that people would link the name Satoshi Nakamoto to any Blockchain company or any new Finance/IT company and think that this was enough to make that enterprise a success.
I came across companies created just to make quick money or companies that had no vision. They only wanted answers from prospective employees just so they could tick their tick boxes without actually having the knowledge to understand the expertise and knowledge that was being offered them.
This was reminiscent of the dotcom bubble where people were not bothered about the company or advances in technology. They wanted only to take money from investors and other people by any means so that they could buy fancy cars and homes for themselves.
It would have been far easier for me to just publish my recent work and go for some ICO. But I didn’t do it even though everything was ready and I had tested the products rigorously. Even people that worked on these projects were not able to understand why I did not launch some ICO. They thought I was sitting on a gold mine and could mint hundreds of millions of dollars easily.
If all I wanted to do was to make money, I could have done so by releasing these frameworks through some ICO, but money wasn’t the factor motivating me at all.
By 2018, I was completely and hopelessly disillusioned with my Bitcoin creation and life itself and wholly disappointed at the turn of events in my personal life and in my career.
It started to dawn on me that as I cared deeply for what I had created and as I loved what I did, I had neglected the project. I saw that people’s greed had turned a beautiful project into a money-making monster which was bleeding billions of dollars from normal, everyday people. I realised that the only person who was able to fix this outcome was me – the original creator of Bitcoin/Blockchain as we know it now.
At this point, I once more began to contemplate that I would reveal myself. It no longer mattered to me if I was believed or not. I needed to rise above the old Satoshi and start on something that built on what had already been done and for the resurrection of my original vision for Bitcoin.
In 2018, I asked a work colleague at NHS a hypothetical question about what if Satoshi were to reveal himself. I explained all the related problems that would be encountered and I asked her what Satoshi should do.
Her response was, “Only Satoshi knows what he can do and who he is inside. If he is gifted and he is hiding because of the fear of his personal life or fear of the world, then he shouldn’t come out. But if he cares about the cure he invented for people being abused and if he has the right vision and has all the right ingredients to bring about change in the world, then he shouldn’t forgive himself by not revealing himself!”
She said Satoshi should take responsibility for his knowledge and expertise and if he doesn’t, then he shouldn’t care about the world and continue to live a hakuna matata life. I asked her what if people were to vilify Satoshi, as he had lost his email account and his 980,000 bitcoins? Her reply was, “Would Picasso care to prove himself or would he prove himself through his work that he is Picasso?” This led me to conclude that if Satoshi was to be true to himself, then he must do so by saving and improving Bitcoin and not care what people think.
At that time, I was going through tremendous stress and depression. I had such anxiety that at one point I contemplated suicide. It was then that I realised life without purpose is nothing. That’s when I made the decision to reveal myself.
My First Reveal
I did not reveal my alias as Satoshi Nakamoto to my wife in our first eight years of marriage. But I was always very careful not to lie to her or purposely deceive her.
In October 2018, I confided to my wife that I had something very important to tell her, something she didn’t know.
“As long as you’re not going to tell me that you’re a murderer?” she asked jokingly.
“No, I’m Satoshi Nakamoto.”
“Who?” she said.
“Go Google him,” I told her.
She did the next day while on a train to work.
“You don’t look like him at all!” she said, after seeing photos of Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto, who was mistaken for me in 2014.
“That’s not me!” I said.
“Are you a billionaire?” she asked.
“Well, if I was, we wouldn’t be living in a normal house!”
The more she observed, the more she understood.
“Now I realise why you have gone through all this.”
She used to ask, ‘Why are you keeping all these old laptops around? You should donate them to charity.”
I told her charities don’t take old computers that no longer work. I considered two of them souvenirs from my early days developing Bitcoin. One of them is my Acer Aspire 5738, the most expensive laptop in history!
Fulfilling my Promises
Earlier in “My Reveal,” I pledged to reveal my country of origin and my education.
I am from Pakistan. I reside in the UK. I have never resided in the U.S.
I was graduated from Al-Khair University in Pakistan. I took online courses from Yale in financial management, from Duke in behavioural finance, and from the University of California-Irvine in project management.
A Special Dedication
On a personal note, I am dedicating my comeback to Steve Jobs, a legend of our times who also thought differently and changed people’s lives. His name is synonymous with inspiration.
Jobs narrated this Apple ad in 1997, “Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
My Real-Life Identity
My birth name is Bilal Khalid. I used that name to register the domain name theBCCI.net on the 18th of November 2008. I’ve since changed my legal forename and surname to James Caan. I updated my name on the domain registration of theBCCI.net since only the owner of the domain can make such a change. But it is impossible for anyone to change the domain name itself or the date on which it was registered.
There are multiple reasons for changing my name. In my childhood, my mother used to tease me by calling me either Khan – some of my mother’s family roots are Pathan and my grandfather was Khan Sahib – or James. She said that the way I used to behave, or have my breakfast, or displayed certain mannerisms that I acted more like a James than a Khalid.
The Godfather of Digital Cash
After the creation of Bitcoin and having chosen the alias name of Satoshi Nakamoto, thanks in part to Hal Finney, I was watching the movie The Godfather when I saw James Caan. It was at that moment I thought, “I am the godfather of digital cash” though at that point I didn’t have any intention to come out. When I calculated the name James Caan using Chaldean numerology, it came up as the number 24.
I also saw UK serial entrepreneur James Caan on the BBC series Dragon’s Den. I realised I could relate to him in that he was an Asian who had also changed his name, which is very uncommon. And the Dragon’s name reminded me of my mom calling me James and Khan.
I shared my thoughts of changing my name with my wife. She insisted I keep my original name, too, going forward as my middle name. So I changed my name via deed poll to James Bilal Khalid Caan, which is equivalent to the number 50. Day to day, I choose to use the shorter version as James Caan is the number 24 and my preferred name. It was the perfect combination in numerology as well as having personal significance.
Passionate to Create a Secure Future
In the years after I left Bitcoin, I thought my real identity would be discovered at any time. I changed my writing style and tried not to even talk about cryptocurrency. I had this paranoia, especially when Bitcoin was being used by some Muppets for the wrong reasons.
I created Bitcoin because I wanted to change people’s lives. After I left, I was hoping someone would come out and say, “I have done better than Satoshi! Satoshi is just history!”
Everything happens for a reason. Until recently, I was not ready for the world to learn a secret I had worked so long and so hard to conceal and protect. But I no longer live in fear. My confidence and my strong passion for my vision have been restored.
So, if you don’t mind, go along with me in this revolution as we make stunning innovations for the continuum century and establish the framework for future ages to live in a secure, community-owned world.
My full legal name is James Bilal Khalid Caan.
But I will forever be known as Satoshi Nakamoto.
Information on Tabula Rasa, my clean-slate vision for Bitcoin.