Did Satoshi have the idea for Bitcoin 10 years before the release?

  • An anonymous post on the cyberpunks mailing list, dated 21 years ago, could be from the creator of Bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto. 
  • In the post, the supposedly young Satoshi discusses “ecash”, a payment system that existed before Bitcoin and is considered to be a forerunner of Bitcoin, which Satoshi was inspired by.

An old post from the cypherpunks forum mailing list dated September 19, 1999, has resurfaced and has caused a wild speculation in the crypto community on whether the post may have been posted by a young Satoshi Nakamoto, the creator of Bitcoin. Presented by Adam Back, co-founder and CEO of Blockstream, the author of the publication talks about “ecash,” the payment system that is considered to be a precursor to the cryptocurrency.

Ecash is an electronic cash system created by David Chaum in 1983. Like Bitcoin, ecash was designed to be an anonymous payment system that uses cryptography. The ecash paper was published in 1983, explaining that banks should be required to electronically sign “electronic money” that could then be used by users. The signatures were made through a feature of ecash, called “Blinding”. ecash was briefly implemented in a US bank between 1995 and 1998 through Chaum’s company, Digicash. However, unlike its successor, ecash was centralized and depended on bank intervention for its operation.

10 years before Bitcoin

The young Satoshi Nakamoto supposedly commented on this flaw of the Ecash system, the centralization. Created about 10 years before the publication of the Bitcoin whitepaper, the author refers to the problem of double spending, which Bitcoin was to solve later. He also criticizes that the system is called “ecash”, although this cash could have become useless overnight due to government intervention:

I wouldn’t say ecash has to use blinding, but I would argue it would be a misuse of the word “ecash”, if something which was revocable were dubbed ecash.

The author of the publication goes on to explain that problem of double spending should be solved without the need for the intervention of a central entity. Notably, he did in a style very similar to Satoshi Nakamoto:

One possibility is to make the double-spending database public. Whenever someone receives a coin they broadcast its value. The DB  (database) operates in parallel across a large number of servers so it is intractable to shut it down.

Then the author of the publication makes two proposals to improve the ecash, also mentioned in the Bitcoin Whitepaper. Furthermore, the supposed young Satoshi Nakamoto talks about b-money, invented by Wei Dai, and Hashcash invented by Adam Back:

Another possible form of ecash could be based on Wei Dai’s b-money. This is like hashcash, something which represents a measurable amount of computational work to produce. It therefore can’t be forged. This could be a very robust payment system and is worth pursuing further.

One user asked Back about the time it took Satoshi to develop Bitcoin. The user said that if these concepts were already known in 1999, why did Satoshi not publish its whitepaper until 10 years later? Back replied that it wasn’t really that obvious at the time, although the release was “on track”.

This is not the first time that there is speculation about the identity of the creator of Bitcoin. An investigation by Monero Outreach is linking Satoshi Nakamoto to the whitepaper and the creation of Monero The researchers claim that the creator of the privacy coin, Nicolas van Saberhagen and Satoshi Nakamoto, are one and the same person. However, the researchers do not rule out the possibility that their conclusions are the result of coincidence.

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About Author

Reynaldo Marquez has closely followed the growth of Bitcoin and blockchain technology since 2016. He has since worked as a columnist on crypto coins covering advances, falls and rises in the market, bifurcations and developments. He believes that crypto coins and blockchain technology will have a great positive impact on people's lives.

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