Bitcoin pioneer Hal Finney was competing in a 10-mile race when Satoshi Nakamoto was responding to emails and transacting on Bitcoin, newly surfaced evidence has revealed.
For years, it has been speculated that the late Hal Finney, a computer scientist, created Bitcoin (BTC). He was the first person besides Satoshi to download and run Bitcoin’s software and was the first recipient of Bitcoin. Finney, however, denied the theory until his passing in 2014.
Jameson Lopp, a self-proclaimed cypherpunk and co-founder of Bitcoin custody firm Casa, doesn’t believe the speculation either. In an Oct. 21 blog post, Lopp shared new evidence that casts further doubt on the theory.
Racing to send an email
Lopp’s key evidence revolves around a 10-mile race in Santa Barbara, California, on Saturday, April 18, 2009.
According to the race data, Finney competed in the “Santa Barbara Running Company Chardonnay 10 Miler & 5K,” starting at 8:00 am Pacific Standard Time and finishing the race 78 minutes later.
The race, however, coincides with timestamped emails between Satoshi and one of the first Bitcoin developers, Mike Hearn.
Hal Finney was a legendary Cypherpunk, but he was not Satoshi.
Today I present my research to support that claim.https://t.co/gZVQv3QW0B
— Jameson Lopp (@lopp) October 21, 2023
“It turns out that early Bitcoin developer Mike Hearn was emailing back and forth with Satoshi during this time,” explained Lopp, referring to archived emails that Hearn had released publicly in the past.
“What can we determine from all of this? Satoshi sent the email to Mike at 9:16 AM Pacific time – 2 minutes before Hal crossed the finish line.”
“For the hour and 18 minutes that Hal was running, we can be quite sure that he was not interacting with a computer,” Lopp added.
The Bitcoin transaction
Meanwhile, Lopp highlighted on-chain data to further support his claim.
Hearn’s emails show that Nakamoto sent Hearn 32.5 BTC in one transaction.
Lopp pointed to this transaction that took place on block 11,408, which was mined at 8:55 am PST — 55 minutes into Finney’s race.
Nakamoto confirmed this transaction — in addition to another one involving 50 BTC — in the 6:16 pm email, which Lopp iterates took place while Finney was still running.
Meanwhile, analysis has also highlighted that Satoshi was working on code and posting on various forums during a time when Hal Finney’s battle with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) had already affected his ability to use a keyboard.
Lopp cited an Aug. 22, 2010 post from Hal Finney’s wife, Fran Finney, who said the couple attended the 2010 Singularity Summit in San Francisco on Aug. 14–15 and that Finney’s hard-fought battle with ALS slowed his typing from a “rapid-fire” 120 words per minute to a “sluggish finger peck.”
Bitcoin is better off with Satoshi’s identity remaining unknown. A human can be criticized and politically attacked. A myth will withstand the test of time.
— Jameson Lopp (@lopp) August 12, 2023
During that same time, Nakamoto performed four code check-ins and wrote 17 posts on various forums between Aug. 14–15, 2010, said Lopp.
Lopp also noted several differences in Finney’s Reusable Proofs of Work code compared with the original Bitcoin client code.
However, Lopp also acknowledged there could be objections to the so-called evidence.
Hearn published the emails in 2017 — seven years ex-post facto — and that it was around a time when other Bitcoiners lost trust in him over disagreements on how to scale Bitcoin.
Finney could have also scripted the emails and transactions in advance, or there could have been more than one Satoshi Nakamoto, Lopp said.
However, Lopp argues that Bitcoin’s creation came from a single developer:
“In all my time researching Satoshi, I’ve yet to come across any evidence suggesting it was a group. If it was a group, then they all operated on the same sleep schedule, consistent across code commits, emails, and forum posts.”
Hal Finney unfortunately passed away in August 2014 as a result of complications with ALS.