Happy 48th Birthday, Satoshi Nakamoto

We love you but we don’t miss you.

AccessTimeIconApr 5, 2023 at 6:43 p.m. UTC
Updated Apr 6, 2023 at 1:23 p.m. UTC
AccessTimeIconApr 5, 2023 at 6:43 p.m. UTCUpdated Apr 6, 2023 at 1:23 p.m. UTC
AccessTimeIconApr 5, 2023 at 6:43 p.m. UTCUpdated Apr 6, 2023 at 1:23 p.m. UTC

Today we celebrate the creator of Bitcoin on Satoshi Nakamoto’s birthday. Happy birthday, Satoshi!

We don’t know who Satoshi is and we likely never will, but the pseudonymous founder does apparently have a birthday. Satoshi entered a birth date when they registered the pseudonym with The P2P Foundation. Satoshi’s birthday is, according to that registration, April 5, 1975. (For proof, Satoshi’s age showed up as 38 on The P2P Foundation on April 4, 2014, and as 40 on April 5, 2015, implying an April 5, 1975, birthday.)

Of course, the Bitcoin faithful have drawn up all sorts of theories about why Satoshi chose this date specifically – besides it actually being their real birthday.

One has to do with the anniversary of Executive Order 6102, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt banned the private ownership of gold on April 5, 1933. Americans handed over gold to the government and, with the Gold Reserve Act the following year, the gold content of the U.S. dollar was increased from $20 to $35 an ounce. Really, that was just a devaluation of the dollar because it now took more dollars to buy the exact same amount of gold.

Was Satoshi winking at us regarding the failure of a government-controlled money? Sure!

Satoshi’s birth year is apparently 1975, which is perhaps a salute to President Gerald Ford who repealed Executive Order 6102 in 1974. (It was effective on Dec. 31, 1974, which is basically 1975, but who’s counting?)

Satoshi winks, yet again.

On this particular birthday I want to shine a light on something else about Satoshi: Their real identity or identities. Was it Hal Finney? Nick Szabo? Adam Back? Len Sassaman? John Nash? Was it all of them together? Was it none of them and some other gallivanting group of cypherpunks?

No one knows, and it doesn’t matter.

At all.

Bitcoin is an open-source protocol that has outgrown a founder or founders. The fact that Satoshi stepped away from Bitcoin when it was hardly a toddler in 2011 only to have it grow into a $500 billion global money system elicits two thoughts: 1) Satoshi is a gracious founder who knew what Bitcoin would be, but only if the protocol was leaderless and 2) Bitcoin’s ascension to notoriety is basically a small miracle.

Who knows what Satoshi was thinking when they stepped away, but Bitcoin probably wouldn’t have come as far.

Would Bitcoin have become as important as it is if we knew who Satoshi was and we looked to them for guidance? Would Satoshi have supported Taproot? Segregated Witness? What about Ordinal non-fungible tokens?

Maybe, maybe not.

The point is that it doesn’t matter, Bitcoin belongs to everyone now. There is no leader. That might make some things messy, but at least it’s our mess. If it was revealed to us in a collective fever dream who Satoshi was, that person or persons would not be handed complete ownership over the project. If it were, there would be plenty of dissenters.

Bitcoin is rules without rulers.

So, happy birthday to you, Satoshi, wherever you may be. We love you but we don’t miss you.

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George Kaloudis

George Kaloudis was a research analyst and columnist for CoinDesk.