26. November 2020

Did Satoshi Nakamoto choose to publish the Bitcoin whitepaper on Halloween as another Easter egg?

From what we don’t know about Satoshi, we can say that he loved to add a dramatic touch to things.

Satoshi Nakamoto announced the Bitcoin whitepaper on a cryptography mailing list on Halloween 2008. It could be that this was a meaningless coincidence, but if we consider the meticulous planning of the Bitcoin launch party, the date chosen is beginning to make more sense.

Halloween is the time of carnival, a ritual day when one can pretend to be someone or something else, whether it’s a comic book superhero like Batman or Superman, or another eternally popular option for Halloween, a ghost, a spirit, much like Satoshi, who is neither dead nor alive.

The carnival tradition goes back hundreds, even thousands of years, and there is no more appropriate day for the creator of Bitcoin to reveal the person of Satoshi Nakamoto than Halloween.

„The mystery and paradox in it“

Whoever created the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto probably came from the Crypto Engine community, a motley group that was united by the common goal of using cryptography to narrow the scope of the Hobbesian Leviathan. The word „cryptography“ is made up of the two words in ancient Greek, which when combined mean something like „hidden writing“ or „secret writing“. The primitive spirit of the cypherpunks is best summed up by none other than Hal Finney in his famous „farewell“ publication in Bitcointalk:

„Fast forward to the end of 2008 and the Bitcoin announcement. I’ve noticed that cryptographic gray-haired beards (I was in my mid-50s) tend to become cynical. I was more idealistic; I have always loved cryptography, the mystery and paradox in it“.

Finney was the first person, outside of Satoshi, to run Bitcoin; he was also the recipient of Bitcoin’s first transaction. His early involvement with Bitcoin and his previous programming experience has led many to believe that he was Satoshi. If Finney had been involved in the creation of Bitcoin, then for the ‚mystery and paradox‘ lover named ‚Hal‘, revealing the project to the world on Halloween might have had an additional meaning.

Things are not what they seem when it comes to the launch of Bitcoin

For Satoshi Nakamoto, the creation of a decentralised electronic currency that was beyond the reach of any government was an ideological effort imbued with symbolism and ceremony. The transaction of the genesis block currency contained a quote from the English newspaper, The Times, which many believe was a political opinion on the failures of the contemporary financial system:

„The Times 03/Jan/2009 Chancellor on the brink of second bank rescue plan“.

The quote also acted as a watermark, a time stamp certifying that the Bitcoin network was launched on 3 January 2009. This is the start date accepted by the majority for the Bitcoin block chain. However, this may not be true. It’s true that it couldn’t have been created before that date, but the quote doesn’t prove that the network was born on that date. The first block (the genesis block was the zero block) was mined on January 8, five days later. This was probably the day the Bitcoin network was launched. Satoshi backed up the last time stamp service to make his political statement.

FDR and the birth of Satoshi Nakamoto

Satoshi’s profile at the Foundation for Peer-to-Peer Alternatives, or P2P Foundation, indicated that his birthday was April 5, 1975. It has come to the attention of many that on April 5, 1933, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed Executive Order 6102 prohibiting the private accumulation of bullion, which limited an individual’s ability to own gold. During the Great Depression, the population looked to gold as a definitive refuge asset at a time of great uncertainty. The recent horrors of German hyperinflation were still fresh in everyone’s mind. Until then, the US dollar was backed by gold, the government needed to have more gold reserves in order to print more dollars, so it believed that gold hoarding was hampering economic growth.

However, that same year, the United States was forced to abandon the gold standard. Roosevelt’s order was finally revoked by President Gerald Ford, and the bill took effect on 31 December 1974. Therefore, some have suggested, the year of birth of Satoshi Nakamoto, 1975, the first year in which Americans regained the right to hold gold.

Bitcoin continues to make mischief around the world

Satoshi has done a wonderful job in creating an anonymous alter ego. Twelve years later no one has been able to unmask his Halloween costume. In a world where apparently the answer to any mystery, the solution to any paradox, is just a few mouse clicks away, creating an undecipherable anonymous identity had to take ingenuity and meticulous planning. Satoshi was always careful to leave few clues about himself in his writings.

Satoshi’s last post on Bitcointalk was on December 12, 2010, and in his penultimate post the day before, he lamented the attention Bitcoin was receiving from the WikiLeaks association:

„It would have been good to get this attention in any other context. WikiLeaks has stirred up the hornet’s nest, and the swarm is heading our way.

Shortly after that he withdrew from public view. However, when the world was harassing and stunned Dorian Nakamoto, Satoshi, perhaps motivated by remorse for a joke that went too far, posted a message on the P2P Foundation site:

„I am not Dorian Nakamoto“.

Getting out of „trick-or-treating“ is one of the Halloween customs where children go door-to-door trick-or-treating and threatening to make mischief if adults do not comply with their demands. When Bitcoin, paradoxically, turns 12, it seems that the world still doesn’t know how to deal with this little mischief-maker.