A theory published last month attempts to tether now deceased Cypherpunk Len Sassaman to the creation of the world’s first cryptocurrency. On February 21, a writer, Leung, published a comprehensive study that looks at the possibility of Sassaman being Satoshi Nakamoto, the creator of Bitcoin.
Coincidently two months before Sassaman died, Nakamoto left the crypto community saying probably he won't be around in the future.
Who is Len Sassaman?
Sassaman (1980–2011) was one of the original cypherpunks and an advocate for privacy. According to his wife, he committed suicide on July 3, 2011. That year, Black Hat Briefings disclosed that a tribute to Sassaman was embedded into BTC blockchain.
Leung explains how the obituary is attached to the BTC network.
"Embedded on every single node of the Bitcoin network is an obituary," Leung wrote. "It’s a memorial to Len Sassaman, a man essentially immortalized in the blockchain itself. A fitting tribute in more ways than one."
According to a write-up on Bitcoin.com, Leung’s first piece of circumstantial evidence is the fact that Nakamoto quit the Bitcoin project and left the community two months before Sassaman passed away. Leung added that he was initially hesitant to speculate on Satoshi’s identity, but one Craig Wright’s claims made him believe the subject was important.
Sassaman was an advocate for privacy. He gravitated towards cryptography and protocol development. He was a PhD candidate at Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium as a researcher with Computer Security and Industrial Cryptography (COSIC) research group, led by Bart Preneel.
At 21, he also organised protests following the arrest of Russian programmer Dmitry Sklyarov. By 22, he already had the cryptography expertise to build the very foundations of Bitcoin, Bitcoin.com quotes the aforementioned study.
He was married to computer scientist Meredith L. Patterson. The couple worked together on several research collaborations. Sassaman also worked with popular Satoshi-suspect and now deceased Hal Finney.
'Revisited topic' after a fraudulent claim
"With Craig Wright fraudulently claiming credit and invoking a copyright claim to take down the Bitcoin whitepaper," Leung wrote, "It's important we revisit the topic and recenter the discussion around the cypherpunks who actually built Bitcoin."
Bitcoin.com quotes the study as saying that by the time Sassaman was 22, he already had the cryptography expertise to build the very foundations of Bitcoin. Another interesting fact about Sassaman was that he worked with popular Satoshi-suspect and now deceased Hal Finney.
Leung said Sassaman and Finney had one strong commonality — developing anonymous remailer technology. Sassaman was the lead maintainer of Mixmaster anonymous remailer code and Randseed remailer.
According to Bitcoin.com, an anonymous remailer is similar to a Bitcoin node, as it accepts messages and instructions on how to accept, store, and send them without revealing the origination point. The Bitcoin blockchain, however, processes these actions in a pseudo-anonymous fashion, making a BTC user as transparent or as anonymous as they desire.
The author further argued: Bitcoin’s architecture is very similar to that of remailers.
Leung also shows evidence of Sassaman collaborating with Blockstream CEO, Adam Back, when he listed him as a contributor to a research paper and in a Mixmaster memo, says Bitcoin.com.
Back has also been a suspect in Satoshi mystery, when a YouTube channel "Barely Social" published a video called “Unmasking Satoshi Nakamoto,” on May 11, 2020. Leung’s report notes, at one time Back “suggested that Satoshi might have been a remailer developer.”
"Unlike many cypherpunks discussed, we know that Len made extensive pseudonymous contributions to the cypherpunk mailing list via remailers," Leung insisted.
Is Satoshi possibly an American academic who writes in British English?
The study published on February 21 also details how Sassaman became a researcher and Ph.D. candidate at Computer Security and Industrial Cryptography Research Group (COSIC). Leung notes, "Len’s Ph.D. advisor at COSIC was none other than 'father of digital currency' David Chaum.”
Leung also mentions Sassaman’s relationship with Bittorrent creator Bram Cohen — they worked together on a project called Pynchon Gate.
Meanwhile, during the period (2008-2010), BTC was being developed and kick-started, Leung’s report notes that a few people have assumed that Nakamoto was an academic like Sassaman was during those years. “I think he’s an academic, maybe a post-doc, maybe a professor who just doesn’t want the attention,” early Bitcoin developer Gavin Andresen said at one time.
"Satoshi’s code contributions and comments ramped up heavily during summer and winter break," Leung emphasised.
Moreover, because Sassaman was located in Belgium during Bitcoin’s development, it also coincides with the opinion that Satoshi was in Europe developing Bitcoin. Recent studies suggest Satoshi was creating the project in London, writes Bitcoin.com.
"Strangely enough, Len used the very same British English as Satoshi even though he was American," Leung detailed. "Since COSIC was based in Leuven, Len was living in Belgium during Bitcoin’s development. This is salient given that a number of facts suggest that Satoshi was based in Europe," the study explains.
Bitcoin.com, however, notes that Leung’s report, like other suspects and investigations, lacks real hard evidence that could lead people to identify Sassaman as Nakamoto.
(Edited by : Jomy)
First Published: IST