Cypherpunks – Technology for Freedom

3 min read

The Cypherpunk

In a nutshell, Cypherpunks are activists who advocate the use of privacy-enhancing technology to usher in a new era of social and political chance.

In 1985 cryptographer David Chaum published his book “Security without Identification: Transaction Systems to Make Big Brother Obsolete.” One of Chaum’s key proposals in the book was to create anonymous digital cash which would offer people an alternative to government-backed currencies.

The ideas within his book are considered to be the basis of Cypherpunk ideology, which spawned a movement in the late 1980s.

The movement helped to produce Cypherpunks such as WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, Tor developer Jacob Applebaum, and famed cryptographer Hal Finney.

Hal Finney: a cryptographer of interest

Those in the cryptocurrency community may recall that it was the last man listed, Hal Finney, who received the very first Bitcoin transaction from the currency’s founder Satoshi Nakamoto.

His association with Nakamoto made Hal Finney a person of interest for those trying to uncover the crypto creators true identity.

In fact, journalist Andy Greenberg of Forbes Magazine suspected that Finney himself might have had a hand in Bitcoin’s creation. However, Finney denied any involvement in the creation of the popular cryptocurrency.

The Forbes columnist had writing analysts compare one of Finney’s writing samples to that of Nakamoto’s. The analyst determined that the sample bore the closest resemblance they had yet come across.

Finney had spent a portion of his career as a programmer working for a privacy software company. He also created the first reusable proof of work system that preceded Bitcoin; thus he had the sort of background one might require to create the famed cryptocurrency.

Moreover, he had been involved in the Cypherpunk movement since as far back as 1991; suggesting he would also have a motive to create an alternative form of currency such as bitcoin.

Hal Finney

Finney also lived only a few short blocks from Dorian Nakamoto, a man who was also suspected of being the man behind the Sastoshi Nakamoto mantle. In spite of their proximity, the two men claimed they did not know each other.

Despite the mostly circumstantial evidence, after seeing several e-mails between Finney and Satoshi Nakamoto along with their bitcoin transaction records, Greenberg was convinced that Finney and Satoshi Nakamoto were not one and the same.

Sadly, Hal Finney passed away in 2014 after a 5 year long battle with ALS. While Finney may not have been Satoshi Nakamoto (assuming one agrees with Greenberg’s findings), there are still other candidates who are worth examining.


Join us next time for Finding Satoshi Nakamoto: Part 3 – The Other Nakamoto. And, if you missed Part 1 – Introducing the Mystery, check it out to catch yourself up! To read more about Bitcoin, or cryptocurrencies in general, we have some valuable resource pages for you.