The following list is my personal list of the people who have had the most impact on Bitcoin. Their ranking is based on their role in spreading information on the benefits of Bitcoin and strengthening its infrastructure. Some extra weight was given to those who have had direct involvement in the creation and maintenance of the Bitcoin ecosystem as a whole.
Hal Finney was not only renowned cryptographic activist, but also a Bitcoin pioneer. In 2004, Finney created the first reusable proof-of-work system before Bitcoin. In 2009, he took part in the first ever Bitcoin transaction, receiving bitcoin sent by Satoshi Nakamoto. In addition to being a regular poster on the cypherpunks listserv, he also ran a successful contest to break the export-grade encryption used by Netscape.
Finney worked as a developer for the PGP corporation until his retirement in 2011. He continued to program until his death in 2014, however, working on experimental software called bcflick, which uses Trusted Computing to improve Bitcoin wallet security. He was cryopreserved based on a previous agreement with the Alcor Life Extension Foundation.
Although he has repeatedly denied it, many have speculated that Szabo is Satoshi Nakamoto himself. “I’m afraid you got it wrong doxing me as Satoshi, but I’m used to it,” he told one financial author who claimed that Szabo “is only one person in the whole world that has the sheer breadth but also the specificity of knowledge” to be Bitcoin’s creator.
He designed a mechanism for a decentralized digital currency called “bit gold” in 1998. But while this pioneering digital currency did not gain much support at the time, it did help bring about the advent of Bitcoin some ten years later. He is also credited with coining the term “smart contracts.”
Unlike Satoshi, however, Szabo has appeared in public such as in 2015 at Devcon1 in London. At the event, Szabo discussed where he thinks Bitcoin technology is headed, explaining how cryptography “and in particular Ethereum” can help solve some of the world’s biggest problems today.
ANDREAS M. ANTONOPOULOS
Andreas M. Antonopoulos gives the best talks at conferences and meetups around the world. Most speeches are recorded and uploaded to his Youtube channel for everyone to view. Working on crypto-currencies for the last ten years, he wrote one of the seminal books on bitcoin, Mastering Bitcoin.
Andreas is informative, insightful and humorous in his speeches. Topics are very interesting and cover subjects ranging from bitcoin macroeconomics to blockchain protocols, from politics to financial insolvencies. Andreas will engage you from the first minute.
A few of the videos in this channel have been transcribed, edited and published as a book: The Internet of Money.
Peter Todd describes himself as an applied cryptography consultant. He is one of the bitcoin core developers and travels the world sharing his blockchain knowledge, mission and expectations.
Peter shares and debates on social media with other developers and community members about current issues on technical development of Bitcoin. In my opinion, Todd is one of the most technically knowledgeable bitcoiners out there. Many experts turn to him for advice on key implementation issues.
Adam Back has technical experience extending decades before the actual launch of Bitcoin. Indeed, Satoshi Nakamoto used Back’s 1997 Hashcash invention in bitcoin’s proof of work (PoW) mining system. Adam was one of the first people to interact with Satoshi via the cypherpunks mailing list.
Some people have suggested that Back may well be the guy, or one of the guys behind the anonymous Satoshi Nakamoto persona.
Currently Adam Back is the CEO and co-founder of blockchain infrastructure provider, Blockstream. His company has received investment from serious individuals in high positions.
Blockstream is behind the launch of the first ever Bitcoin space satellite service in August 2017. The satellite aims to help Bitcoin users in areas with no internet access the bitcoin public ledger. We’re already seeing it being used in China as the government clamps down on bitcoin protocol packets.
Roger Ver was best known for his passion and advocacy to push the adoption of Bitcoin. At one point he acquired the moniker “Bitcoin Jesus“.
However in recent times Roger has been demonized and cast aside for his adversarial role in the scaling debate. Roger is a strongest supporter/leader of the “Miners camp“.
Roger was among the first investors to put money in bitcoin startups and has investment in several major bitcoin companies including:
Jihan Wu is the founder and CEO of Bitmain, one of the largest Bitcoin mining pools and manufacturer of mining rigs. He is an outspoken supporter of big blocks as a scaling solution for Bitcoin.
Wu is among the primary supporters of Bitcoin Cash (BCH), an altcoin that forked from Bitcoin on 1 August 2017 and Segwit2x. He receives public support and backing from the Chinese “miners camp” in the Bitcoin scaling debate – including Roger Ver.
Jihan receives much criticism for opposing mainstream bitcoin scaling solutions and for his non-conforming stance on Bitcoin’s future.