The disappearance of the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto is one of the major events in the history of Bitcoin Era. Two years after unveiling his invention to the world, it has indeed decided to faint without giving any reason, leaving the reins of the project to a few trusted people. Let’s go back to this departure and what it has engendered.
An organized departure
During the year 2010, Bitcoin acquires a certain popularity: thanks to the relay of specialized media like Slashdot , its user base increases, its price grows exponentially and mining becomes more and more specialized. This is the moment that Satoshi Nakamoto chooses to disappear.
He organizes his departure and his last actions and messages will serve as indications for the future. This is the case with the OP_NOP operation codes that he added discreetly to the code on July 29 with the only comment “ expansion ”, and which will then be used to implement functionalities thanks to soft forks.
This is also the case for the block size limit that it integrates into the protocol on September 12, and which limits Bitcoin’s transactional capacity. On October 4, following a message on Jeff Garzik’s forum proposing a patch to increase this limit, Satoshi explains how this increase could be implemented:
“[The upgrade] can be in very old versions, so that by the time the block number is reached and it takes effect, the old versions that do not contain it are already obsolete.”
If at the end of 2010 this characteristic does not pose a problem (the number of transactions is far from reaching the limit), it will become crucial over the years and will lead to the debate on the scalability of Bitcoin which will rage between 2013 and 2017 in the community.
On December 10, still on the subject of scalability, Satoshi gives his opinion on the BitDNS project, which is a decentralized model of domain names based on a different blockchain than that of Bitcoin. He writes :
“Stacking all proof-of-work quorum systems in one database is not scaling. Bitcoin and BitDNS can be used separately. […] Networks need to have different destinies. BitDNS users might be completely tolerant of adding features to handle big data since few domain name registrars would be needed, while Bitcoin users might become increasingly bigoted to About limiting the size of the channel to keep it easy for many users and for small devices. ”
Thus, Satoshi speaks out in favor of alternative chains that allow more things to be done than Bitcoin allows. On April 17, 2011, the BitDNS project will be launched under the name Namecoin and will be the first “ alternative cryptocurrency ”, the first of a long list that will generate much ink.
On December 12, Satoshi posted his last public message on the forum, announcing version 0.3.19 of the software. In this post, he insists that “ the software is not at all resistant to denial of service attacks ” and implies that it would be good to work on it.
At this point, few people suspect that Satoshi is about to completely turn away from his invention. Nevertheless the premises of this disappearance are there: he thus entrusts a greater place in the project to Gavin Andressen , in particular by asking him to indicate his e-mail address on the website bitcoin.org. During the following months, Satoshi only communicated by email with the most active people: he sent messages to Gavin of course, as well as to Mike Hearn and other developers.
In April 2011, the news broke: Satoshi announced that he was leaving the project. His last private message is addressed to the one who probably helped him the most during this adventure: Martti Malmi . In this email sent at the beginning of May 2011, the creator of Bitcoin says:
“I’ve moved on and probably won’t be there in the future.”