Newly discovered emails between Satoshi Nakamoto, Bitcoin’s pseudonymous creator, and the late Hal Finney deepen the mystery around the cryptocurrency’s origins.
The three emails come from Bitcoin’s earliest days, when its future was uncertain. They show how closely Satoshi collaborated with early supporters at the time of Bitcoin’s launch.
While anything written or coded by Satoshi is intrinsically valuable to the community, perhaps the most intriguing parts of these messages are neither words nor code, but something seemingly prosaic: the timestamps, which present a new riddle.
Michael Kaplikov is an adjunct professor at Pace University in New York; since discovering Bitcoin, he has been interested in its origin story.
They were shared with me by journalist and author Nathaniel Popper, who during his work on “Digital Gold: Bitcoin and the Inside Story of the Misfits and Millionaires Trying to Reinvent Money” was provided access to Finney’s correspondence.
Finney, who died in 2014, was the recipient of the first Bitcoin transaction. A legend in his own right, he developed the first reusable proof-of-work system, among other achievements.
[Editor’s note: In preparing this article for publication, CoinDesk contacted Fran Finney, Hal’s widow, who confirmed she had provided his correspondence to Popper, who in turn confirmed sending the messages to the author. “In March of 2014 we sent Nathaniel Popper those files, documenting email exchanges between Hal and Satoshi,” Fran Finney told CoinDesk. “The files were retrieved from the computer Hal was using for personal email in 2009 and were provided with Hal’s consent.”]
November 2008 was when Satoshi opened Bitcoin to public scrutiny. Until then, the project Satoshi had spent a year and a half coding was only shared privately with a select few. On Aug. 22 of that year, he emailed Wei Dai, the author of “b-money” and, sometime before that, Adam Back, the creator of Hashcash (whose…