Bitcoin’s pseudonymous creator, Satoshi Nakamoto, is a figure surrounded by mystery, and this intrigue continues today despite many aspects of the founder’s influence being studied at length.
A particular point of interest has been a large amount of unmoved Bitcoin mined in the early days of the blockchain’s existence that is attributed to Satoshi. Much like a sunken treasure captures the imagination of explorers, this BTC’s existence and its dormancy have been the subject of extensive research.
Over the past few years, there’s been a lot of attention whenever BTC contained in wallets mined in the years following Bitcoin’s creation is moved. Some of these transactions have warranted the attention, while others simply fall out of the timeframe when Bitcoin’s creator and other early adopters may have been mining.
A significant amount of analysis and simulations have been made in an effort to accurately identify blocks and Bitcoin believed to have been mined by Satoshi Nakamoto. Thanks to the efforts of individuals, there is a better understanding of how they went about mining, how many blocks they mined, and how much BTC they accumulated as a result.
Others have built on this work to make the picture clearer — but there is still so much interest surrounding the legacy BTC mined in the early days of the blockchain’s existence and if and when it will ever be moved.
The Patoshi Pattern
Let’s rewind the clock to early 2009 when Satoshi Nakamoto brought Bitcoin into existence by mining the genesis block. In the months that followed, the founder and other early collaborators and adopters began to use the blockchain, mining blocks and transacting with their BTC wallets.
The Bitcoin mining reward of 50 BTC meant that a large amount of the capped cryptocurrency was mined in the three years before the first-ever halving event. Satoshi Nakamoto’s role in the early Bitcoin mining ecosystem has been proved to be significant through blockchain analysis conducted by cryptocurrency security consultant Sergio Demian Lerner, which meant that the founder/s were in control of a significant amount of BTC.
Cointelegraph reached out to Lerner, who currently works at IOV Labs as their chief scientist, to better understand how he helped shed light on Satoshi Nakamoto’s involvement in the foundation of the Bitcoin network.
Lerner carried out simulation-driven research outlined in a paper titled “The Patoshi Mining Machine,” which examines what hardware Satoshi Nakamoto used to mine in the early days of Bitcoin. To try to avoid contentious debates about the Bitcoin founder and focus on the technical side of his work, Lerner dubbed the miner “Patoshi.”
The researcher likened Bitcoin mining to buying a lottery ticket as he explained how his simulations identified this pattern: “The most interesting simulation was the re-mine of Patoshi blocks looking for other solutions to the Bitcoin proof-of-work puzzle.” He adds, “Each solution is a number (called a nonce), which is like the number of a lottery ticket. Miners ‘buy’ lottery tickets one after the other until they win.”
Lerner compared the ticket numbers of the lotteries that he mined to the ones that were mined by Patoshi. When the researcher restricted the analysis to certain ranges of the lottery numbers, he realized that Patoshi had a “clear tendency” to choose the higher numbers.
“This strongly implies that Patoshi scanned the numbers downwards when looking for the winning lottery ticket. Even if we don’t know if he started with a high or low number, he always did it by decrementing the ticket number until some time had elapsed or he won the Bitcoin block lottery. The fact that in each separate range he searched there is a tendency to pick higher numbers, but combining all ranges there is not such a tendency implies that he was scanning the numbers simultaneously with five different machines (or threads), each on a certain range.”