Satoshi Nakamoto Had Outside Cryptography Help, Says Early Bitcoin Dev


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According to an early Bitcoin (BTC) developer, Satoshi Nakamoto sought help from outside cryptographers prior to launching Bitcoin.

Laszlo Hanyecz, who worked closely with Satsohi in 2010, told Cointelegraph that he was befuddled by Satoshi’s choice of the elliptic curve secp256k1. The use of this curve, at the time, was unusual. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) curves were much more common. Many Bitcoin enthusiasts over the years have been speculating as to whether this is luck or genius, as the curve chosen by Satoshi is more efficient and also makes any backdoor less likely.

“I had a bunch of people look at it”

At some point, Hanyecz sent Satoshi an email asking him why he picked this particular curve, Satoshi explained to Hanyecz that he had had some experts helping him:

“‘I had a bunch of people look at it and they told me this was good.’ And he didn’t really elaborate on it, but he said he had experts look at it.”

It is not clear exactly when Satoshi sought this outside help, but prior to launching Bitcoin. Neither it is clear whether Satoshi just posted his questions on some cryptographic forums and mailing lists or had live communications with cryptographers. 

A few tries before Bitcoin

On another occasion, Hanyecz marvelling at the genius of the Bitcoin design, asked Satoshi: “How did you make this? Would you do this by yourself?”, without going into details, he reported that Satoshi told him:

“I took a few years […] took a few tries. I’ve been working on it for a while.”

Generally, it is consistent with Satoshi’s public account of his work, in which he admits that he spent about eighteen months working on the code. We do not know if “few tries” refers to Satoshi’s previous projects or to earlier versions of Bitcoin.

This account also adds interesting wrinkles to the debate of whether Adam Back was a part of the Satoshi team. Were Adam Back part of the team, would they still need to seek outside help? Back, probably like Satoshi, is not a professionally trained cryptographer and Hashcash does employ an elliptic curve. 

Another issue is that, taking into account how careful Satoshi had been making sure that he did not leave any identifiers, was the information that he shared with Hanyecz even truthful?

Nonetheless, any new fact that could potentially help us better understand the mystery behind Satoshi Nakamoto and the creation of Bitcoin is worth considering.