Computer visionary says he knows who invented Bitcoin

The identity of the creator of the virtual currency has eluded even its core developers. But computer visionary Ted Nelson thinks he has the answer.

The inventor of Bitcoin has been shrouded in a mystery so complete, it's baffled even core developers for the virtual currency. Who is Satoshi Nakamoto, the pseudonym for the person or group of people who came up with the original idea for the electronic cash system in 2008?

After contributing thousands of lines of code and hundreds of posts on Bitcoin, Nakamoto sent a note to a developer in April 2011 saying that he had "moved on to other things." Later that year, the New Yorker and others tried to unravel the mystery, but came away empty-handed.

But now Ted Nelson thinks he has the answer. The computer visionary has posted a video on YouTube in which he claims that the real person behind the pseudonym is none other than Shinichi Mochizuki, a math professor at Kyoto University.

Of course, Nelson doesn't offer up a lot of specifics to back up his theory, only explaining that Mochizuki is a brilliant mathematician and has a background that fits with the behavior of the elusive Nakamoto. Nelson also claims to have looked where others haven't, asking himself, "What would Sherlock Holmes have done?"

A large portion of the video consists of Nelson lauding the virtues of Bitcoin. He compares it to gold in one example: "Most people call Bitcoin a virtual currency, but I call it electronic gold," he says with a flourish of his eyebrows. "Like gold, Bitcoin has no central authority...Like gold there will always be a limited supply, and thus its value will increase, and like gold, Bitcoin is brilliant."

He then goes on to discuss the history of Bitcoin and its founder and his own feelings of empathy for Satoshi Nakamoto, saying he felt as if during his search he was looking for his "own long lost brother."

We've contacted Mochizuki for comment and will update this post when we learn more.

Correction, May 20 at 7:04 a.m. PT: This story initially misquoted Nelson. Regarding gold, Nelson actually said "there will always be a limited supply."

About the author

Desiree Everts DeNunzio is a freelance editor and writer. She's dabbled in digital media and technology for the past decade, including stints at CNET News and Wired magazine. When she's not fiddling with various gadgets, she spends her time running after chickens and her own brood.

 

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