Reporter Unmasks the 'Father of Bitcoin'

Leah McGrath Goodman: Satoshi Nakamoto is ... 64-year-old Satoshi Nakamoto
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 6, 2014 11:46 AM CST
Reporter Unmasks the 'Father of Bitcoin'
This April 3, 2013 file photo shows bitcoins.   (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

Satoshi Nakamoto: It's the name of the "father of Bitcoin," and it's been rumored to be everything from a pseudonym to a cipher. According to investigative journalist Leah McGrath Goodman, Satoshi Nakamoto is ... Satoshi Nakamoto, a 64-year-old Japanese-American man with an estimated $400 million Bitcoin fortune who drives a Toyota Corolla and lives with his 93-year-old mother in Southern California. The trail that led to him, as recounted in a Newsweek piece clocking in at some 4,500 words, is fascinating enough to bear a long mention: a deep review of a database holding the registration cards of naturalized US citizens led to a Nakamoto who fit the profile. Goodman ordered his records from the National Archives and started interviewing people; she got Nakamoto's email via a company that the model train enthusiast shops from; she first approached him with emails about altering model steam trains, and a back-and-forth ensued. Then late last month she asked about Bitcoin.

The email communication stopped. He wouldn't return her calls. So she showed up at his house in Temple City, Calif. He peered out the door then called the cops.

  • Writes Goodman, "Now face to face, with two police officers as witnesses, Nakamoto's responses to my questions about Bitcoin were careful but revealing. '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.'"
The rest of the piece is nothing if not intriguing, with Goodman talking to Nakamoto's family members (including the wife he's separated from, some of his six children, and his own siblings), who describe him as moody, fixated on money and secrecy, and quick to deny he's the founder of Bitcoin even to them. Among their theories on why Nakamoto could be Nakamoto: He was twice laid off in the '90s, which led to a foreclosure, something that his daughter says could have colored his opinion of banks; his wife says his model trains could play a role. He bought many from England, and would "always complain" about bank fees and exchange rates, perhaps spurring him to create the digital currency. Click to read Goodman's piece in full, which looks at clues she found in the timing of Bitcoin's creation and Nakamoto's post-2001 "job lapse" and the way Bitcoin's code was written. A question she has not answered: If Nakamoto is Nakamoto, why hasn't he spent some of his millions? Click for her full piece. (More Satoshi Nakamoto stories.)

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