LOS ANGELES – Dorian Prentice Satoshi Nakamoto says he is not the creator of bitcoin, adding further mystery to the story of how the world’s most popular digital currency came to be.
The denial came after Newsweek published a 4,500-word cover story claiming Nakamoto is the person who wrote the computer code underpinnings of bitcoin.
In an exclusive two-hour interview with The Associated Press, Nakamoto, 64, denied he had anything to do with it and said he had never heard of bitcoin until his son told him he had been contacted by a Newsweek reporter three weeks ago.
Nakamoto acknowledged that many of the details in Newsweek’s report are correct, including that he once worked for a defense contractor, and that his given name at birth was Satoshi. But he disputed the magazine’s assertion that he is the face behind bitcoin.
I got nothing to do with it, he said, repeatedly.
Newsweek stands by its story, which this week kicked off the relaunch of its print edition after 15 months and reorganization under new ownership.
Since bitcoin’s birth in 2009, the currency’s creator has remained a mystery. The person – or people – behind the digital currency’s inception have been known only as Satoshi Nakamoto, which many observers believed to be a pseudonym.
Bitcoin has become increasingly popular among tech enthusiasts, libertarians and risk-seeking investors because it allows people to make one-to-one transactions, buy goods and services and exchange money across borders without involving banks, credit card issuers or other third parties. Criminals like bitcoin for the same reasons.
For various technical reasons, it’s hard to know just how many people worldwide own bitcoins, but the currency attracted outsize media attention and the fascination of millions as an increasing number of large retailers such as Overstock.com began to accept it.
After Newsweek posted the story on its website early Thursday, Nakamoto said his home was bombarded by phone calls. By midmorning, a dozen reporters were waiting outside the modest two-story home on the residential street in Temple City, Calif., where he lives. He emerged shortly after noon saying he wanted to speak with one reporter only and asked for a free lunch.