👨🏻💻 Hal Finney
was a famous cryptographer, programmer, and bitcoin pioneer who received his first bitcoin transaction from Satoshi Nakamoto. He died in 2014 at the age of 58 after battling ALS for five years and paying donors to freeze his body.
The identity of Bitcoin’s pseudonymous founder is the subject of endless and dedicated speculation among the hardcore crypto crowd, and for good reason: this mystery is truly impressive. While there are plenty of candidates to quote, there is something special about passionate runner, cyberpunk, and early Bitcoin contributor Harold Thomas Finney II, better known as Hal, that makes people believe he is the right person. But let alone all dreams, dealing with reality is revealing.
California Institute of Technology and Crypto Beginnings
Finney graduated from Caltech in 1979 as an engineer. After several years developing computer games, he moved to PGP where he created some of the "pretty good privacy" the world has ever seen. Finney was a member of OG cypherpunk, a mailing list member in the early 1990s, and an avid developer and philosopher of cryptographic solutions for privacy, anonymity, and financial independence.
One of his most recent accomplishments at Bitcoin was the creation of the first known anonymous trader and digital reusable proofs of work (RPOW) system in 2004. He was also known for receiving his first Bitcoin transaction directly from Satoshi. These basic facts are impressive enough, but they will take a closer look at some of the accidents and things that can tell whether something like Hal as Nakamoto. First, a quote from Finney via email from Cypherpunks in 1992:
" Here we are faced with the problems of loss of privacy, creeping computerization, massive databases, more centralization – and Chaum offers a completely different direction to go in, one which puts power into the hands of individuals rather than governments and corporations. The computer can be used as a tool to liberate and protect people, rather than to control them. "
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