Shadowy Bitcoin Inventor "Satoshi Nakamoto" May Be a 64-Year-Old Man From L.A.

The Citizen's Guide to the Future
March 6 2014 10:16 AM

Newsweek Thinks It Found the Real "Satoshi Nakamoto" ... and His Name Is Satoshi Nakamoto

Newsweek magazine: the possible identity of Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto.
Newsweek is back with a big scoop.

Screenshot / Newsweek

The first revelation of the day is that Newsweek still exists—or rather, exists again. (The print edition of the recently resuscitated magazine is expected to hit newsstands tomorrow.)

But the bigger revelation is that Newsweek believes it has found the shadowy figure who created bitcoin, the world’s most popular crypto-currency.

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For years bitcoin’s invention—detailed in this seminal paper—has been credited to “a pseudonymous person or group of people” who went by the name of “Satoshi Nakamoto.” Efforts to find the real Satoshi Nakamoto have been numerous, and suspects have run the gamut from a Finnish economic sociologist named Vili Lehdonvirta to a Texan security researcher named Dustin Trammell to a Japanese mathematician named Shinichi Mochizuki. All have denied being Satoshi Nakamoto, and for good reason: The real Satoshi Nakamoto, according to Newsweek, is actually a man named … wait for it … Satoshi Nakamoto. From the magazine:

Far from leading to a Tokyo-based whiz kid using the name "Satoshi Nakamoto" as a cipher or pseudonym (a story repeated by everyone from Bitcoin's rabid fans to The New Yorker), the trail followed by Newsweek led to a 64-year-old Japanese-American man whose name really is Satoshi Nakamoto. He is someone with a penchant for collecting model trains and a career shrouded in secrecy, having done classified work for major corporations and the U.S. military.

When Newsweek’s Leah McGrath Goodman tracked Nakamoto to his humble family home in Temple City, Calif., he apparently panicked and called the cops. Eventually he let slip a few words about his relationship to bitcoin before clamming up for good:

“I am no longer involved in that and I cannot discuss it," he says, dismissing all further queries with a swat of his left hand. "It's been turned over to other people. They are in charge of it now. I no longer have any connection."

If this is indeed the real Satoshi Nakamoto, it seems he has eluded identification until now in part because he changed his name at age 23 from “Satoshi Nakamoto” to “Dorian Prentice Satoshi Nakamoto” and now goes by “Dorian S. Nakamoto.” The full story, in which Nakamoto is described as both “brilliant” and “an asshole” by people close to him, is well worth your click. Among the fascinating tidbits: Nakamoto's second wife suspects he may have created bitcoin in part because he was frustrated by the bank fees and exchange rates he faced when wiring money to buy model trains from overseas.

The bitcoin fanboys at Reddit, meanwhile, are outraged that Newsweek has “doxxed” their hero. Or, some have suggested, perhaps they’re just sucking on sour grapes because a traditional print journalist succeeded where they had failed.

Again, McGrath’s full story is here.

Previously in Slate:

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Will Oremus is Slate's senior technology writer.