A message from 1999, published on the Cypherpunks mailing list, which could belong to Satoshi Nakamoto, has been discovered.
The sender of the message is anonymous and is a response to a discussion about eCash, an anonymous and untraceable currency that was thought to replace the banking system.
In reality, there is no certainty that that message was written by the very person behind the Satoshi Nakamoto pseudonym, but what was written in that message is in line with the assumptions that led Nakamoto to create and release Bitcoin a decade later.
The author of this message replied to another message in which it was assumed that eCash should not necessarily use obscured transactions and that electronic money could not be implemented without tamper-proof hardware, because the use of a database could be easily targeted, for example, by a government that decides to block it.
The reply, presumably by Satoshi, states instead that there are alternatives that would allow avoiding such attacks.
In fact, the author refers to what looks like a P2P system. At the time, not only did P2P systems already exist, but they were also in vogue thanks to very popular software such as Napster.
The author of the message wrote:
“One possibility is to make the double-spending database public. Whenever someone receives a coin they broadcast its value. The DB operates in parallel across a large number of servers so it is intractable to shut it down”.
The reasons why the author is alleged to be Satoshi Nakamoto himself are the additional details he provides.
In fact, to the response, he adds two elements that will be fundamental for the development of Bitcoin: the deflationary nature and the Proof of Work.
“The greater danger is that the mint would be taken over and forced to behave badly, say by issuing too many coins. This would degrade the money and make it worthless”.
This is, in a nutshell, the assumption from which the concept of the deflationary nature of Bitcoin was later developed, i.e. a creation of currency not controlled and not controllable by anyone, but fixed for eternity in a virtually immutable computer code.
About the Proof of Work he wrote:
“Another possible form of ecash could be based on Wei Dai’s b-money.
This is like hashcash, something which represents a measurable amount of computational work to produce. It therefore can’t be forged. This could be a very robust payment system and is worth pursuing further”.
In short, in this 1999 message, there are three of Bitcoin’s core fundamentals:
- the distributed ledger,
- the deflationary nature,
- the Proof of Work.
Since then, nine years passed before the Bitcoin whitepaper was released and almost ten years before the Genesis Block was created.
If this message is really from Satoshi, this indicates that he may have worked on the design and development of Bitcoin for years before releasing it publicly.
However, it’s also worth remembering that it was in 2008 that the financial crisis caused by subprime mortgages broke out and that this was probably the key driver that convinced Satoshi to take things seriously.