Bitcoin’s founder Satoshi Nakamoto used to be very active in forums like Bitcointalk before disappearing in 2011. He contributed hundreds of public blog posts, that are still visible today, where he discusses technical topics related to Bitcoin, his beliefs, and his grand vision. He also had several private email discussions with some select community members.
While most of his posts and emails were focused on the technical development of Bitcoin, some others give us a glimpse into the mind of this anonymous genius. In this article, I have curated a list with some of the best quotes by Satoshi Nakamoto. I hope you will find these quotes as fascinating as I did.
1. Message in the Genesis block
The Times 03/Jan/2009 Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks.
Satoshi Nakamoto used the Genesis block (first block in a Blockchain) of Bitcoin to log a powerful message which would remain there for the rest of Bitcoin’s existence. Bitcoin was created right after the devastating 2008 economic collapse which was caused by central banks, and in the Genesis Block, Satoshi Nakamoto made it very clear what the aim of Bitcoin was.
2. No time
If you don’t believe it or don’t get it, I don’t have the time to try to convince you, sorry.
Satoshi Nakamoto was a man (or woman?) on a mission. He made this very clear with his direct messages on Bitcointalk, always straight to the point in order to not waste time that he could spend improving the Bitcoin code. This quote is from a message Satoshi sent to the now founder of Bitshares in response to a comment on Bitcoin scalability.
3. They are coming
WikiLeaks has kicked the hornet’s nest, and the swarm is headed towards us.
This was the second last post that Satoshi Nakamoto made before disappearing. Did he disappear voluntarily to hide? Or did something worse happen?
4. Lost coins
Lost coins only make everyone else’s coins worth slightly more. Think of it as a donation to everyone.
It is estimated that there are over 4 Million Bitcoins that are lost forever, this makes BTC even scarcer, and hence all the remaining coins more valuable. Satoshi understood that very early on and shared this insight in a sarcastic message on Bitcointalk.
5. All or nothing
In a few decades when the reward gets too small, the transaction fee will become the main compensation for [mining]nodes. I’m sure that in 20 years there will either be very large transaction volume or no volume.
Satoshi was aware of the fact that Bitcoin would either become very big or completely disappear. There was no in between. This was part of the reasoning behind the mining reward halving schedule that he hard-coded into Bitcoin.
To learn more about Bitcoin nodes, check out this study on Bitcoin node distribution.
6. Decentralization wins
A lot of people automatically dismiss e-currency as a lost cause because of all the companies that failed since the 1990’s. I hope it’s obvious it was only the centrally controlled nature of those systems that doomed them. I think this is the first time we’re trying a decentralized, non-trust-based system.
Bitcoin was not the first attempt to create a digital form of money. Many companies have tried to accomplish this during the early days of the internet boom. However, all of these projects prior to Bitcoin failed or were never actually completed. Satoshi believes that this was due to their centralized and trust-based nature, two qualities that money should not have.
7. Distributing Bitcoins
As computers get faster and the total computing power applied to creating bitcoins increases, the difficulty increases proportionally to keep the total new production constant. Thus, it is known in advance how many new bitcoins will be created every year in the future.
Coins have to get initially distributed somehow, and a constant rate seems like the best formula.
One of the main dilemmas of the creation of a new world currency is how to fairly distribute the coins. Satoshi came to the conclusion that an effective method is to distribute them at a constant rate to individuals directing computing power to the Bitcoin network (miners).
8. Bloody hard
Sorry to be a wet blanket. Writing a description for this thing for general audiences is bloody hard. There’s nothing to relate it to.
Satoshi’s choice of words in has led some to believe that he may be of British nationality. Could this be true and bring us one step closer to unveiling his true identity? Or is this all part of a genius masterplan to misguide people and keep his true identity anonymous?
9. Don’t trust third parties
With e-currency based on cryptographic proof, without the need to trust a third party middleman, money can be secure and transactions effortless.
One of Satoshi’s core principles was to never trust third parties like banks or governments. He designed the architecture of Bitcoin with this in mind.
10. Not for micropayments
Bitcoin isn’t currently practical for very small micropayments. Not for things like pay per search or per page view without an aggregating mechanism, not things needing to pay less than 0.01. The dust spam limit is a first try at intentionally trying to prevent overly small micropayments like that.
In late 2017, the scaling debate started heating up again after Bitcoin’s fees increased over $10 per transaction, eventually peaking at $55. This resulted in a Bitcoin hard fork which created BCH (Bitcoin Cash). Bitcoin Cash supporters claim that the original vision of Bitcoin was to be used for small day-to-day payments. However, this may have not been Satoshi’s actual vision based on the above Bitcoin quote.
If you have different thoughts, let us know in the comments! All opinions are always welcome.
11. Generate all the addresses you want
When you generate a new bitcoin address, it only takes disk space on your own computer (like 500 bytes). It’s like generating a new PGP private key, but less CPU intensive because it’s ECC. The address space is effectively unlimited. It doesn’t hurt anyone, so generate all you want.
This was Satoshi’s answer to a concerned user asking if a bad actor could destroy the bitcoin network by creating endless amounts of Bitcoin wallets. The answer is simple: No. There are 2^160 potential Bitcoin wallets, which renders this type of attack on the network pointless. To put things into perspective, there are “only” 2^63 grains of sand on Earth.
12. Central banks
The root problem with conventional currency is all the trust that’s required to make it work. The central bank must be trusted not to debase the currency, but the history of fiat currencies is full of breaches of that trust. Banks must be trusted to hold our money and transfer it electronically, but they lend it out in waves of credit bubbles with barely a fraction in reserve.
Satoshi’s profound distrust towards central banks was his motivation behind creating Bitcoin. In the quote above he makes it very clear that he does not believe in the long-term viability of currencies that are trust-based.
13. Zero bugs
I keep a list of all unresolved bugs I’ve seen on the forum. In some cases, I’m still thinking about the best design for the fix. This isn’t the kind of software where we can leave so many unresolved bugs that we need a tracker for them.
Part of the success story behind Bitcoin is the absolute focus of its core developers security and excellent code. This is also one of the key aspects that differentiate Bitcoin from other altcoin projects, where its founders often prioritize experimenting with new technologies and learning on the go, risking potentially disastrous code bugs.
14. Alternative to credit cards
Bitcoin would be convenient for people who don’t have a credit card or don’t want to use the cards they have.
In this quote, Satoshi was making reference to why Bitcoin might become the payment method of reference for people that don’t want to associate their identity to a certain purchase. Although Bitcoin is not fully anonymous and should not be seen as a “privacy coin”, it is indeed more private than credit cards.
15. Bitcoin “Buy attack”
When someone tries to buy all the world’s supply of a scarce asset, the more they buy the higher the price goes. At some point, it gets too expensive for them to buy any more. It’s great for the people who owned it beforehand because they get to sell it to the corner at crazy high prices.
This was Satoshi’s reply to the concern of a community member asking if a malicious actor could simply “Buy all Bitcoin” in an effort to render the network useless. Satoshi’s answer is simple, this would not only not work, but also make all current Bitcoin owners incredibly wealthy.
16. Satoshi’s language
It’s very attractive to the libertarian viewpoint if we can explain it properly. I’m better with code than with words though.
Satoshi knew that Bitcoin had to captivate the minds and hearts of people in order to be truly successful. However, he did not see that as his role. He saw himself as the creator of Bitcoin, not the promoter, and his main contribution to be code.
17. A major battle in an even larger war
We can win a major battle in the arms race and gain a new territory of freedom for several years.
The above message was Satoshi’s reply to a lengthy exposition of a vulnerability by a user, accompanied by the text “You will not find a solution to political problems in cryptography”. Satoshi’s reply was sent in a private cryptography mailing list, so it is not publicly viewable like his posts on Bitcointalk.
And that’s all for this compilation of Satoshi Nakamoto quotes!
Do you think there is an important quote missing? Please let us know in the comment section below.