It's long been taken as a given that Satoshi Nakamoto, the mysterious "person or entity" who created Bitcoin, the world's best-known digital currency, is a pseudonym—probably for more than one person.
But Newsweek reports that it's finally tracked him down using a method nobody else had thought to try: Looking for people named Satoshi Nakamoto.
They found the person they believe to be Bitcoin's mysterious creator living in a modest California home and building model trains, having long since relinquished any involvement in Bitcoin.
"I am no longer involved in that and I cannot discuss it. It's been turned over to other people. They are in charge of it now. I no longer have any connection," Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto told Newsweek's Leah McGrath Goodman. (This is the closest Goodman gets to actual confirmation that her Nakamoto is the Nakamoto who created Bitcoin, though the circumstantial evidence is compelling.)
He's a 64-year-old Japanese-American engineer who's worked mainly on defense and security projects, both for private contractors and the U.S. military. Post-9/11, he worked on security and communications software for the FAA.
"It was very secret," Nakamoto's daughter, Ilene Mitchell, told Newsweek. "He left that job sometime in 2001 and I don't think he's had a steady job since."
Bitcoin's lead engineer, Gavin Andresen, believes that's when Nakamoto started building Bitcoin.
But he's since turned the project over to others. Nakamoto, who'd never spoken to Andresen by phone, cut off all contact in 2011 when he found out Andresen had agreed to speak at the CIA to make the case for Bitcoin.
That fits with the way Nakamoto's children describe him, as somewhat paranoid and very "wary of government interference."
Nakamoto is still sitting on a fortune, though. A Bitcoin wallet many believe to be Satoshi's contains 1 million Bitcoins—$657 million USD at current exchange rates—that haven't been touched since Bitcoin's inception.
Newsweek speculates the reason he hasn't spent it is because doing so could have compromised his anonymity. Another reason might be that converting Bitcoin to real dollars at that kind of volume is nearly impossible, and would make huge waves in the market.
Not everyone is convinced by the big reveal, though. Many on the libertarian-leaning Bitcointalk forums, perhaps hoping for something more mysterious than a person actually named "Satoshi Nakamoto," are calling the article "a fake," "yellow journalism," and a product of the "left wing media." And Andersen has publicly stated his regret over talking to Newsweek:
I'm disappointed Newsweek decided to dox the Nakamoto family, and regret talking to Leah.
— Gavin Andresen (@gavinandresen) March 6, 2014
Of course, Bitcoin believers are still excited that the article could attract mainstream interest and drive the price of Bitcoin up. (It's actually dropped slightly since the story broke Thursday morning.)
Until Nakamoto says anything else, we're left with what appear to be his three Amazon reviews: "royal danish butter cookies in a big 4lb round blue tin can. it has lots of buttery taste." Five stars.
[Image via Shutterstock]