Story of Satoshi Nakamoto and crypto punks: these emails may be key to his identity

In a recent interview with foreign media Cointelegraph, Blockstream CEO Adam Back talked about his email exchanges with Satoshi Nakamoto and his views on Bitcoin privacy.

Adam Back is a cryptographer known for inventing Hashcash, which is the precursor to the Proof-of-Work (PoW) system used by Bitcoin.

Still, Adam Back admits that he did not help Satoshi Nakamoto create the world's first cryptocurrency, and he may be the first person to email Satoshi Nakamoto to talk about Bitcoin ideas.

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Here is the content from Adam Back:

About Password Punk

"There are many other things that paved the way for Bitcoin, such as cryptocurrency punk-driven digital currency experiments. When the cryptopunk movement really started in the 1990s, I was still in Europe, so I only participated in San Francisco once Password Punk Conference in the Bay Area. "

"Then, cryptopunk was not just about e-cash. It also discussed many other privacy-related topics. At the time, not only was there a cryptography mailing list (where Satoshi Nakamoto publishes a white paper), but also many Other lists, including Nick Szabo, Wei Dai, Hal Finney, and others, who often talk about electronic cash. Some people are in the San Francisco Bay Area, for example, I I think Szabo may have participated in crypto punk face-to-face meetings in the Bay Area, as well as co-founders of the crypto punk mailing list, Eric Hughes, John Gimore, and the late Tee Timothy May. "

"In 1981, David Chaum established the foundation for anonymous communication, and in 1983 he launched a blind signature scheme. Privacy, anonymity, personal freedom, digital control, like mathematics and programming, are passwords. A hot topic for punk. "

About electronic cash (E-cash)

"Cryptocurrency is also a hot topic, and it's discussed on cryptopunk lists and other lists such as Coderpunk, Cryptography List, and Bluesky List."

(Note: Adam Back is also one of the most active posters on the crypto punk list, he has published more than 700 posts)

"There is a lot of controversy about creating digital currencies. In addition to DigiCash by Chaum, B-Money by Wei Dai, and Bit-Gold by Szabo, there are many other obscure papers on this subject, which I gave in 2008. Ben Satoshi has published several articles on Proof of Work (PoW). "

"In 1998, Wei Dai and Szabo were already discussing their digital currency ideas and sharing their proposed B-Money and Bit-Gold with others on these mailing lists."

"There are also Hashcash papers I contributed in 1997, and many later proof-of-work papers, dozens of which were published after Hashcash but before Bitcoin. I mentioned a few in my 2002 paper about Hashcash and some early proof-of-work papers, such as those by Cynthia Dwork and Moni Naor, and even earlier related papers, we must not forget that the reusable PoW concept (RPoW) proposed by Hal Finney in 2004, these are Born before Bitcoin. "

"There are also anonymous people who want to create virtual currencies like MagicMoney from product passwords and other privacy tools such as Heinry Hastur's 'pgp stealth', and I took over the maintenance of these tools."

"So if he is also listed on the cryptopunk list, Satoshi Nakamoto will not be the only 'anonymous' on these lists, or even the only person trying to publish a virtual currency paper. There are many anonymous and semi-anonymous Anonymous people talk about things like electronic cash on cryptopunk lists. "

"In 2001, myself, Finney, and Peter Todd, who was only 15 years old, discussed Hashcash and digital currencies on the Bluesky list, and Todd was also interested in creating a decentralized digital currency."

"First" virtual currency transactions

"Decentralization, this is probably the main word about Bitcoin, and it actually comes from previous proposals."

"As early as 1989, Chaum launched the first version of 'digital currency'. In the cryptopunk list, some of us tried to direct value to Chaum's DigiCash demo server. The idea was to get coins by email. And promised not to issue more than 1 million. "

"On the demo server, I even sold some t-shirts, and all of us who used DigiCash demos thought that if there were enough people to do this, and as long as it had only 1 million coins, it would be stable. Value starts. "

"Unfortunately, DigiCash went bankrupt in this experiment, and the double spend centralized database is a big problem."

"The lesson learned from DigiCash is that we need a decentralized, peer-to-peer approach, which is why we discuss Hashcash, B-Money, Bit Gold, RPoW and other ideas."

"You have to create digital currency in a decentralized way, without a banking interface, without a license, and without cooperation with a bank."

About Hashcash

"That's why the concept of hashcash and mining is very attractive. Some people can make coins by mining, while others can buy and sell them on a decentralized secondary market. It doesn't need to be centralized. Database without the cooperation of a bank. "

"B-Money and Bit-Gold also had flaws, so they didn't become successful projects. At that time, Hashcash was widely reported in computer magazines and online publications because spam was an increasingly hot topic . "

"So, Satoshi Nakamoto could have known Hashcash without arguing with cryptopunk groups."

Email with Satoshi Nakamoto

"In August (or July) 2008, I received an e-mail from Satoshi Nakamoto with a copy of the electronic cash white paper (the name" Bitcoin "did not exist at the time) and it looked very interesting."

"The question at the time was: Will he start this project? What is the principle? I suggested Satoshi Nakamoto observe B-Money. He didn't seem to know about the project at the time. I think that's why B-Money was added to Bit Currency white paper. "

"There are still a few emails. I sent Satoshi Nakamoto about the MicroMint paper proposed by Ron Rivest in 1996. The paper chose a k-direction hash collision instead of part of the original image scheme used by Bitcoin. It is a bit central. But it ’s fun. "

"Maybe not so many people have paid attention to the MicroMint thesis, let alone the B-Money digital currency proposal. Although I know Szabo's work, I happened to not send a recommendation letter to Satoshi Nakamoto about Bit-Gold."

About Bitcoin Software

"I didn't help with the creation of Bitcoin. I didn't write any programs or participate in any programming tasks. When the software came out, Satoshi Nakamoto sent it to me, but I didn't help him.

Hal Finney may have reviewed the early bitcoin code, and although I have never met him face to face, I really like his creativity and the topics he discussed with him on a crypto punk list or email. If 'crypto punk needs to write code', then Hal Finney must be a code writer.


"Some speculate that before Satoshi Nakamoto released his first version of the bitcoin code, someone helped him review it because of an email he sent in November 2018. It seems that Satoshi Nakamoto had written before After the Bitcoin program, he may have made some changes to the code himself. Later, others (such as Hal Finney) may have helped review comments or bug reports, or made some small bug fixes, just like you write an article and ask someone Review the same. "


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Bitcoin and privacy issues

"Unlike Hal Finney and others, although Satoshi Nakamoto sent it to me before the official release of Bitcoin software, I didn't run it at first. Shortly after the official release of Bitcoin, Hal Finney tried I used bitcoin and wrote a summary article on the mailing list about how bitcoin works, and then I reanalyzed bitcoin. "

"I felt at the time that bitcoin had severe privacy restrictions compared to the protocol proposed by Chaum in 1981."

"I'm interested in privacy technology and encryption protocols, and I'm also interested in improving the privacy and interchangeability of Bitcoin. So, I came up with some ideas such as confidential transactions and Schnorr signatures."

"Gradually, the development momentum of bitcoin is growing, it is no longer just a proposal, but a real decentralized digital currency. In order to solve the unrealized privacy issue of bitcoin, we subsequently proposed the creation of Liquid in 2013 Wait for the sidechain to help implement this feature and verify the compromise. Later, I created Blockstream with Greg Maxwell, Pieter Wuille, and others to develop this technology and enable it to be used end-to-end. "

When talking about whether he could openly communicate with Satoshi Nakamoto by email, Adam Back did not agree. Instead, he only mentioned a tweet he posted last year. He believes that Satoshi Nakamoto's anonymity is for Bitcoin. A "feature", if he has any evidence to help people infer Satoshi's true identity, he will choose to delete or shred them.

"I never published my e-mail with Satoshi Nakamoto. Maybe I never will. Ethics on the Internet do not allow e-mails to be shared without permission, and I did not ask Nakamoto to disclose whether his e-mail is OK. "