Is This 1999 Forum Message from a Young Satoshi Nakamoto?
The white paper was published in October 2008, but internet users appear to have recently unearthed a post on the Cypherpunks cryptography forum dating back to September 19, 1999. In the post, an anonymous user discusses cryptography solutions that sound eerily like those later used to form the foundations of the Bitcoin white paper – almost a decade before the landmark paper was published.
The forum thread (you can read it here in its entirety) talks about the concept of “ecash,” with the user posting about the need for “tamper-resistant” hardware “because reliance on a mint, or double spend database means your ‘cash’ can become worthless overnight if someone (say a government) decides to switch off a computer (the one holding the double spending database).”
The user goes on to propose “making the double-spending database public,” and writes,
“Whenever someone receives a coin they broadcast its value. The [database] operates in parallel across a large number of servers so it is intractable to shut it down.”
The user goes on to expand further on this concept, speaking of the need for “something which represents a measurable amount of computational work to produce,” which “therefore can't be forged.”
“This could be a very robust payment system and is worth pursuing further,” the anonymous user posits.
And there is even a warning of potential sabotage efforts ahead, with the writer adding,
“The greater danger is that the mint would be taken over and forced to behave badly, say by issuing too many coins. This would degrade the money and make it worthless.”
The find has sent internet sleuths into overtime, particularly as one of the thread’s contributors was Adam Back, a British cryptographer, the inventor of proto-Bitcoin proof-of-work Hascash, and Blockstream’s CEO.
The anonymous writer makes mention of both Hashcash and developer Wei Dai’s B-money concept. It is believed that Nakamoto sent an email about Bitcoin in August 2008, months before the white paper was published.
Tuur Demeester, Founder of Bitcoin alpha fund Adamant Capital, pointed fellow crypto enthusiasts in the direction of another Twitter thread from 2017, which points out,
“Not only is Back cited in the Bitcoin white paper, but he is also credited in the Tor white paper of 2004.” Adam Back is also listed among advisors of Adamant Capital.
The same thread adds that “[Former Bitcoin Core developer] Peter Todd conversed with the likes of Hal Finney and Adam Back on mailing lists when he was about 14 about the double-spend problem.”
Finney, who died in 2014, was identified as a possible Nakamoto ghostwriter by Newsweek and the New Yorker. In fact, shortly before his death, Forbes wrote about the fact that Finney, a cryptography pioneer, had a neighbor named Nakamoto.
Previous Reddit-based internet detective work has allegedly uncovered evidence that “Back was the first person to know about Bitcoin.”
Some Twitter users were clearly impressed.