KEY POINTS

  • New research reveals Satoshi Nakamoto protected the Bitcoin network from a 51% attack during its early days
  • With Billions worth of BTC still with Satoshi, many believed the Bitcoin creator will not spend these coins
  • The Patoshi pattern stopped appearing on the same year Satoshi last posted on the Bitcoin forums

A new research by analytics firm Whale Alert reveals that the miner known as "Patoshi", while mining during the early days of Bitcoin, is in possession of 1,125,150 BTC, worth $10.9 billion. Patoshi, who is believed to be Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto, has also made the effort to protect the network from attacks during Bitcoin’s early days.

Patoshi is the name given by analyst Sergio Demian Lerner to the early Bitcoin miner who has a distinct pattern in the mining activity. Lerner believes Patoshi is Satoshi based on a pattern left by using a modified version of Bitcoin Core, which Satoshi allegedly used. 

The particular pattern could be found at the beginning of the network and also in the blocks that mined the Bitcoins sent to Hal Finney, the first person to received Bitcoins through the network. By connecting the two pieces of information together, Whale Alert deduced the identity of Patoshi.

Whale Alert also found out that Patoshi adjusted his mining speed between blocks to maintain the average time of 10 minutes. The analytics firm thought this was done to protect the network from a 51% attack, a malicious takeover of the network by bad actors. Also, Patoshi made sure he maintained 60% of the processing power while leaving enough blocks for other miners. The more miners joined the network, the more secure it was and the lesser the chance for a 51% attack to be successful. When Patoshi decided the network was strong enough, he reduced his blocks per 10 minutes so others have more chance of mining a block.

At some point, however, it became difficult to track Patoshi’s blocks so it was impossible to know if Patoshi (or Satoshi) had continued or stopped mining. Whale Alert said the node or computer (miner) used to mine the Patoshi blocks was turned off around May 2010. In total, 907 BTC was spent from the Bitcoins mined on the Patoshi blocks and 1,122,693 BTC was unspent.

Around the same time, Satoshi was active in the BitcoinTalk forum until Dec. 12, 2010. Satoshi's last verified communication was an email to then-Bitcoin developer Gavin Andresen. “I wish you wouldn’t keep talking about me as a mysterious shadowy figure, the press just turns that into a pirate currency angle,” Satoshi said.

Gold-colored Bitcoin coin on ground Gold-colored Bitcoin coin on ground Photo: André François McKenzie on Unsplash