It is widely believed that Satoshi Nakamoto is the inventor of an encryption technique called “blockchain.” I just read a new book by Sarah Westall titled “FIRST: Meet the Inventor of Blockchain” that credits Dr Kelce Wilson as the true inventor of blockchain, a concept he developed between 2000 and 2001 while serving in the Air Force. Kelce’s concept was to use blockchain as a method to guarantee the authenticity and integrity of legal documents such as contracts and wills. He patented his concept in April 2008, and the patent was granted in May 2008.
Satoshi Nakamoto is not a real person, but an identity used by the person or persons who developed the Bitcoin implementation of blockchain. Nakamoto claims to have begun work on the code in 2007, and presented a paper in October 2008, and released version 1 on Sourceforge in January 2009.
Blockchain has some exciting new uses in privacy, authenticity, and integrity of digital information and communications.
- Ninety percent of major North American and European banks are exploring blockchain: 90%.
- Estimated value of the global blockchain market is expected to be $20 billion by 2024.
- IBM has over 400 blockchain projects currently in development.
Uses for blockchain include:
- Secure, anonymous crypto-currency payment systems such as BitCoin and Etherium.
- Digitally verifiable contracts and legal documents.
- Secure international currency transactions between banks.
- Credit card transactions
- Proof of identity, digital identification and digital signatures.
- Creating digital assets such as stock, bonds, real estate titles.
- Airline and retail rewards programs.
- Verification of data integrity including uses in web sites.
It seems that when a new idea is ready to be born, it turns up a roughly the same time in several places. Many times the person who gets the credit depends on who has the best publicist. This is not the first time in the history of invention, computing or encryption that the wrong person was credited with the original idea. There is of course the famous case of Alexander Graham Bell and Elisha Gray, who both submitted patents for the telephone on the same day only hours apart. Ron Revere, Adi Shamir, and Leonard Adelman have been credited with inventing the first public-key encryption system in 1978, but in truth, it had been invented by English mathmetician Clifford Cocks in 1973, while work for the British intelligence agency GCHQ. The encryption system remained a classified secret of the English government until 1997, when it was finally declassified.
So the case between who ultimately gets credit for blockchain may ultimately be settled by the publication of books such as Sarah Westall’s. The book starts with an introduction of blockchain, and Dr Wilson, then follows with a timeline of the events around the development of blockchain. Then there is an interview transcript from her web radio show, Business Game Changers. What follows is a series of proofs including patent dates, a comparison of BitCoin to PEDDaL (see diagram), a discussion of Blockchain architecture and design choices, Dr Wilson’s patent portfolio, and a quick biography.
If you are interested in blockchain, or engaged in a blockchain development project, this would be a great and quick read (191 pages). You can listen to the Dr Wilson interview on Business Game Changers.