Gavin Andresen is an American computer scientist and software developer best known for his early contributions to bitcoin. Andresen took up the role of lead developer of bitcoin core after Satoshi Nakamoto disappeared in 2010. Andresen also acted as the chief scientist for the Bitcoin Foundation after it was formed in 2012.

Andresen graduated from Princeton in 1988 and worked as a software developer before discovering bitcoin in 2010. He subsequently became a full-time bitcoin developer and corresponded with Satoshi Nakamoto via email. In 2010, Andresen also created ‘the Bitcoin Faucet’, a website which gave out free bitcoin to help attract users to the project.

Later that year, Andresen announced that he would undertake “more active project management for bitcoin” “with Nakamoto’s blessing.” He became the lead developer of bitcoin core, though other bitcoin core developers have disputed that Nakamoto truly named Andresen as his successor as has been commonly claimed, and have argued that Nakamoto merely disappeared.

In April 2011, the CIA offered Andresen $3,000 to give a presentation on bitcoin at the emerging technologies conference for the US intelligence community held at the CIA headquarters. He stepped down as bitcoin’s lead developer in 2014, and said at the time that he wished to focus on his role as chief scientist at the Bitcoin Foundation.

At CoinDesk’s Consensus 2016 conference, Andresen controversially announced that he believed Australian computer scientist Craig Wright’s claim that Wright was Satoshi Nakamoto. Wright had been identified by both Gizmodo and Wired as bitcoin’s pseudonymous creator in December 2015, but evidence uncovered after the publication of the stories suggested that Wright’s claim was a hoax, and Wired said it no longer believed that Wright was Nakamoto. Shortly after backing Wright, Andresen’s permission to make changes to bitcoin’s code on Github was rescinded. Later in 2016, Andresen said in a blog post that he “regret[ed] ever getting involved in the “who was Satoshi” game”, and that the community should “ignore” Wright.

Furthermore, Andresen has also been a vocal proponent of increasing bitcoin’s block size. In 2015, Andresen and fellow bitcoin developer Mike Hearn forked bitcoin core and created bitcoin XT, which was one of several forks that aimed to implement a larger block size at the time. Bitcoin XT was not widely adopted by the bitcoin community. Andresen endorsed bitcoin cash in 2017, tweeting “bitcoin cash is what I started working on in 2010: a store of value AND a means of exchange.”

Since 2017, Andresen has been involved in the creation of zcash, a cryptocurrency focused on privacy, and in a security project dubbed the Random Sanity Project, which checks sources of randomness in code.

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Authored by John Metais