Published in October 2008, “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System” is probably the most famous whitepaper in the world. And it turns out that it’s also the most widely owned and downloaded, since a copy of Bitcoin’s founding document has been included in every version of Apple’s macOS operating system since September 2018. This is the discovery of developer Andy Baio, who in a blog revealed last week that a PDF version of the document is included in Mac operating systems, probably as a sort of ‘sample document’.
While the inclusion of the white paper remains something of a mystery, what’s not so surprising is the reaction of the Bitcoin community. Bitcoin owners and supporters have widely shared the news as another implicit example of the growing penetration of cryptocurrency into the mainstream, with some observers assuming that Apple “stands behind Bitcoin and its mission and this is their way of promising support.” Even more incredible, a relatively large number of commentators have gone so far as to suggest that the legendary Apple co-founder Steve Jobs could be Satoshi Nakamoto, the mythical creator of
Is there any credibility in these theories, beyond the obvious parallel that Steve Jobs and Satoshi Nakamoto are both widely considered visionaries of technology? Well, the short answer is no, with the known facts surrounding Nakamoto making it unlikely that Jobs was the creator of Bitcoin. However, in a cultural and economic landscape defined by sensationalism and virality based on social media, the piggybacking of the Bitcoin community on Apple and Jobs has proven effective in obtaining even more
publicity for the original cryptocurrency.
The Bitcoin white paper is in MacOS, but the founder of Apple didn’t put it there
If readers have a Mac or MacBook with MacOS 10.14 (or later), they can find their PDF copy of the Bitcoin white paper by opening the Terminal app and entering the following command line: open/System/Library/Image Capture/Devices/VirtualScanner.app/Contents/ Resources/simpledoc.pdf
There’s not much more to say about the inclusion of the newspaper in MacOS, since apart from someone else who independently discovered its presence on Mac in 2021, nothing is known about why it was put there.
The obvious answer is that the document ‘was used in tests’ by a developer and ‘they forgot to take it off’. And yet it seems that even Apple as an organization might not know why it’s in MacOS, since Andy Baio updated his blog with a note that an internal source told him that “someone filed it internally as a problem almost a year ago, assigned to the same engineer who put the PDF there in the first place, and that person hasn’t acted or commented on the
Steve Jobs is Satoshi Nakamoto: conspiracy theories begin
If this internal source is to be trusted, the person who hid the Bitcoin whitepaper in MacOS is still working at Apple, which obviously means that it can’t be Steve Jobs (who passed away in 2011).
However, that hasn’t stopped many people from indulging in speculation that Jobs was Satoshi Nakamoto. Some have raised this possibility simply as an interesting theory, while others have come out of the closet and have seriously stated that they believe that the co-founder of Apple
It seems that, apart from the fact that both are pioneers of technology, the only (circumstantial) evidence to support this theory is a coincidence. That is to say, Jobs died in October 2011, while Nakamoto published his last message in December 2010. In other words, Nakamoto’s death is somewhat adapted to Jobs’ sick health and possible death, at least according to some
Steve Jobs wasn’t Satoshi Nakamoto
Of course, a vague coincidence is barely enough to give credibility to any Steve-Jobs-is-Satoshi-Nakamoto theory. And it’s certainly not enough to counter what’s publicly known about both Jobs
First of all, several people have (rightly) pointed out that Jobs didn’t really know how to program and was more of a presence/marketing/vision man at Apple, while people like (fellow Apple co-founder) Steve Wozniak were actually building things. This already makes Jobs’ candidacy unlikely, but the theory is contradicted by other known facts about Nakamoto
In particular, Nakamoto regularly made use of British English in his writings and posts, mixing British English spellings and phrases with instances of American English. There is no record of Jobs spending much time in the United Kingdom, particularly during his youth and education (periods that would have shaped his spelling habits). As such, it seems unlikely that it would have taken the use of British English spelling
Perhaps more overwhelming, a 2020 analysis of the time of Nakamoto’s various posts concluded that the creator of Bitcoin most likely resided in London while working on the launch and initial development of the cryptocurrency. According to the authors of the analysis, the available timestamps are more consistent with a time zone in the United Kingdom, while they also remind us that Nakamoto included a Times title in the first block of Bitcoin
It’s worth pointing out that this study didn’t conclusively prove that Nakamoto resided in a UK time zone. However, it weakens the theory that the creator of Bitcoin was Jobs (who lived in California), providing the supporters of this theory with something embarrassing that they would need to
There are other inconsistencies and contradictions, including the fact that Nakamoto put his birthday as April 5, 1978 on his P2P Foundation profile, when Jobs was born on February 24, 1955 (of course, anyone can easily lie about their date of birth online). More importantly, there is no known trace of Jobs ever publicly showing interest in digital money, as can be seen with other more likely candidates such as Nick Szabo
and Adam Back.
Is advertising good for Bitcoin
Taken together, these facts and arguments make it highly unlikely that Steve Jobs was Satoshi Nakamoto.
It’s likely that the vast majority of people within the cryptocurrency community are well aware of it, but that hasn’t stopped many of them from mentioning the theory. This is not surprising, since Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in general have long been nourished by the publicity and exposure that comes from being associated (however spuriously) with higher-profile mainstream figures and companies (such as Elon Musk and Tesla). The Steve-Jobs-is-Satoshi-Nakamoto theory is another example of this, with the spread of the theory through social media helping to get Bitcoin mentioned once again in the mainstream media. (such as Business Insider, Forbes
In other words, the veracity of the theory is largely irrelevant to its primary objective of keeping Bitcoin in the public eye. And in this he has succeeded, even if we are not yet close to solving the mystery of Satoshi Nakamoto’s true identity