The creator of Bitcoin may be revealing some details about his life.
The creator of Bitcoin may be revealing some details about his life.

Image:  Ted Soqui/Corbis via Getty Images

Satoshi Nakamoto, the pseudonymous creator of decentralized cryptocurrency Bitcoin, appears to be writing a memoir. 

The post announcing the book (which may or may not be finished) appeared on June 29 on the site nakamotofamilyfoundation.org, along with an excerpt from the book. 

The excerpt, titled “Duality” and written from a first person perspective, details the early days of Bitcoin. But there’s no way of telling if the real Satoshi Nakamoto is actually the author — and there are several signs that point to “no.” 

“Announcing the first excerpt to a literary work consisting of two parts. The excerpt is provided. I wanted to include it as a brief glimpse of history. Even for those that can’t read the full book, I wanted to make this available to everyone. A short story if you will, with some of the most brought up questions and answers. I wanted the people and the facts to be known. Or as much of it. I’m still saving most for the books, the best parts hopefully,” says an announcement post on the website. 

The accompanying text excerpt is an interesting read: It reveals several previously unknown details about Satoshi’s life and work, including the reason why the pseudonym “Satoshi Nakamoto” was chosen. 

“I wanted the most common name, which I knew no one outside of Japan had any recollection that Satoshi Nakamoto, was the equivalent of ‘John Smith,'” the author writes. 

It also names several key people that helped the development of Bitcoin, including David Chaum, Mike Hearn, Adam Beck, Wei Dai, Hal Finney but — interestingly — not Nick Szabo, a cryptography expert that’s widely regarded as someone who could be the real Satoshi Nakamoto. 

The exceprt also explains why the final number of Bitcoins produced is set to 21 million. 

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“Why 21 million? The truth is, it was an educated guess. The math worked out, or as close to it as I had wanted it to. Before settling  on 21 million however, I had considered making 100 BTC as the reward, and 42—the answer to life, the universe, and everything. But afraid that others would consider my reference to Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy a quip and at the expense of not being taken seriously, I changed it to 21 million,” the author writes.

The post announcing the possible book release is accompanied by a (very simple) puzzle, which, when solved, produces the phrase “Honne and Tatemae,” a Japanese term which refers to the contrast between one’s true inner thoughts and what is displayed in public. 

So are we really reading the first public text of Satoshi Nakamoto since he disappeared in 2011? It’s possible, but unlikely. Satoshi is known for grammatical accuracy, while the freshly published excerpt is riddled with errors. It also doesn’t appear to produce any solid evidence — a previously unpublished correspondence with some of the people mentioned above, for example — that would point to it really being written by Satoshi. 

Australian entrepreneur Craig Wright, who previously claimed he was Satoshi (but never truly proved it), tweeted shortly after the excerpt was posted, saying the author “cannot get dates nor technical details correct.”

So are we really reading the first public text from Satoshi Nakamoto since he disappeared in 2011? It’s possible but unlikely. Anyone purporting to be Nakamoto can easily prove so by signing a message with Nakamoto’s cryptographic keys. The author of the text has so far done no such thing. 

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