Over the 15 years since Bitcoin was created, there has been no shortage of crazy conspiracy theories about how it was made and where it came from.
Some believe Bitcoin was the work of “a bunch of engineers” in the Chinese Communist Party — presumably for world domination; others claim Bitcoin is the work of benevolent aliens to help humans evolve.
But one theory with circumstantial evidence supporting it has persisted over the years — and it involves one of America’s most secretive intelligence-gathering agencies.
There’s a small sect of Bitcoiners that believes Satoshi Nakamoto — the creator of Bitcoin — is, in fact, the United States National Security Agency in disguise.
Many more, of course, think the idea is ridiculous and point out there’s no absolutely no solid evidence to support it.
But where does the theory stem from? Well, one only needs to look into Bitcoin’s source code.
It’s in the code
What makes Bitcoin so secure lies in its use of Secure Hash Algorithm 256, or SHA-256 (read as sha), which is used for everything from deriving transaction IDs and block hashes to addresses and Merkle trees.
Put simply, it’s a mathematical formula that garbles data into a string of seemingly random text, and it’s why Bitcoin is basically impossible to crack.
Well, it just so happens that this algorithm is the direct work of Glenn M. Lilly, a mathematician who, under the direction of the NSA, designed and eventually published the algorithm in 2001. Lilly later became the NSA’s chief of mathematics research.
The NSA was also one of the first organizations to describe a Bitcoin-like system in a 1996 paper titled How To Make A Mint: The Cryptography Of Anonymous Electronic Cash.
In the paper, the authors proposed a system that uses public-key cryptography to allow users to make anonymous payments without revealing their identity.
The NSA’s 1996 plan to create anonymous electronic cash. (archive.org)
Satoshi Nakamoto is code for the…