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Why Hal Finney might not be Satoshi Nakamoto

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Satoshi Nakamoto’s earliest confidante and first recipient of a bitcoin payment, the late Hal Finney, is many people’s pick when asked who is Bitcoin’s creator. Finney was the earliest and most influential user of the network and back when 1 bitcoin was virtually worthless, he famously predicted that one coin might someday rally to $10 million.

On the other hand, some people think that Finney was simply talking to and sending money to himself.

Now that the highest copyright court in the world has entered a final judgment against the most notorious self-proclaimed Bitcoin creator, Craig Wright, it’s once again anyone’s guess who created the world’s foremost crypto.

However, Bitcoin historian and multi-publication editor Pete Rizzo doesn’t think the judgment against Wright puts Finney back in the frame. Indeed, he published a full explanation of why he believes Finney and Satoshi Nakamoto are not the same person.

Why I don’t believe Hal Finney created #Bitcoin

Time to answer this (on the record).

A thread.

— Rizzo (@pete_rizzo_) March 18, 2024

Pete Rizzo doesn’t believe that the late Hal Finney is Satoshi.

Seven reasons Pete Rizzo says Hal Finney is not Satoshi

To support his argument, Rizzo cites research conducted by Jameson Lopp. First, according to Lopp, Finney was probably physically away from computers at times when Satoshi was online. According to Rizzo, Finney likely lived in a different time zone to Satoshi and a comparison of their computer activities indicates that they had different schedules altogether. If they were the same person, there are many days when Lopp finds it difficult to see how they could have slept.

Rizzo also cites an email from Finney indicating that Finney disliked HashCash’s design. Finney was one early critic of using computing power and electricity to secure that system. If Finney really created Bitcoin, he probably would have ignored the earlier HashCash. However, the real Satoshi endorsed and borrowed elements of HashCash while designing Bitcoin.

Recently surfaced Satoshi emails from the COPA v. Craig Wright trial imply that Satoshi, unlike Finney, knew that Bitcoin would attract global criticism for its electricity consumption. However, Satoshi considered it less of a waste than the resources used by the legacy financial industry.

Read Protos’ full coverage of Bitcoin’s highest-profile lawsuit: COPA v. Craig Wright.

Finney also indicated that there were other things he would have done differently if he were actually Bitcoin’s creator. Finney questioned Nakamoto’s decision to reserve 200 bytes of data space for backwards compatibility, for instance.

Not only that, Satoshi occasionally seemed to ignore questions posed by Finney, including one 2010 post in which Finney posited that other blockchains’ native coins could be traded against bitcoin on exchanges and/or grant privileges on those native chains. Rizzo questioned why someone talking to themselves would waste time with dead-end questions.

Finney ‘most likely’ Bitcoin’s Nakamoto, say researchers

Rizzo also drew attention to the skills of a duplicitous Finney. Rizzo said that an expert coder was unlikely to have possessed the writing and acting skills needed to pull off such a convincing, life-long act and he dismissed the idea that Finney could have so masterfully orchestrated Satoshi as a sock puppet while also coding Bitcoin, writing, and working.

Finally, Satoshi seemed unaware of Wei Dei’s work on B-Money, another cryptography project. Finney, in contrast to Satoshi, frequently communicated with Wei Dei.

In summary, Bitcoin historian Pete Rizzo believes that Hal Finney is not Satoshi Nakamoto. In his view, like millions of other Bitcoiners, Satoshi Nakamoto’s identity is indeterminate. In any case, neither of them leads Bitcoin anymore. Satoshi stopped speaking in 2011. Finney passed away in 2014.

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