THIS IS THE LAST IN A SERIES EXPLORING SOME OF THE REVOLUTIONARIES IN THE BLOCKCHAIN SPACE AND THOSE DESERVING CONSIDERATION ON THE MYTHICAL BLOCKCHAIN MT. RUSHMORE. TODAY’S HONOREE, NICK SZABO, HAS COMBINED A UNIQUE COMBINATION OF EDUCATION, KNOWLEDGE AND SKILLS TO MAKE HIS MARK IN BLOCKCHAIN.
Szabo, who blends the skills of a computer scientist, legal scholar and crypto enthusiast, is widely acknowledged as the developer of the term “smart contracts”—and much of the theory that led to their development.
While cryptocurrencies and blockchain technologies are relatively new—Satoshi Nakamoto created the genesis block of bitcoin in 2008—Szabo was pitching his idea for smart contracts as far back as 1994. His theory for a digital protocol to facilitate, verify and/or enforce a contract WITHOUT the need for a third-party overseer: Two parties, one agreement, no need for anyone else to be involved.
From that early theory, Szabo advanced to creating what was called “bit gold” in 1998. While it was never implemented, Szabo’s idea for a digital currency that could only be transferred after a computer solved a cryptographic puzzle, is recognized as a direct precursor to the bitcoin architecture.
Satoshi or No?
So similar was Szabo’s theory way back in 1998 to what bitcoin is today, that there are whispers that he may, himself, be the mythical Satoshi. While financial author and researcher Dominic Frisby has not been able to declare this to be the case without doubt, he quipped in a 2014 interview, “I’ve concluded there is only one person in the whole world that has the sheer breadth but also the specificity of knowledge and it is this chap.”
Szabo quickly shot back denying that he is Satoshi, but in the years since, media outlets as prominent as the New York Times have continued to speculate on Szabo’s role in the creation of blockchain and bitcoin.
Today, Szabo is among the most notable influencers in the blockchain space, speaking around the world, boasting a Twitter following of more than 200,000, and occasionally publishing his thoughts on his personal blog which he notes is a collection of “An unending variety of topics.”