Max Lynam

We weren’t surprised to hear he was ‘Satoshi’—Craig Wright’s cousin Max Lynam testifies

No one in Dr. Craig S. Wright’s family was surprised to learn he was the inventor of Bitcoin. We heard another side of this story from his cousin Max Lynam, himself an IT expert, during the recent “Hodlonaut” trial where Wright defended against plaintiff Magnus Granath. The trial took place in Oslo, Norway, and is tangential to Wright’s libel action against Granath in the United Kingdom. The U.K. trial is yet to take place.

It’s important to remember that Bitcoin’s history is a human story as well as a technical one. The court trials have focused a lot of attention on specific documents, contracts, and messages that could reveal facts, but just as important are the real-world events and conversations that paint a more complete picture.

Max Lynam describes how he and Wright spent a lot of time together as children, both forming an early interest in computers and coding. This continued into their adult lives as well, with the Lynams starting an upmarket e-commerce business exporting flowers to the Middle East, and Wright moving into the cybersecurity field.

The Lynam family, he says, have a history in computing and electronics, as well as national service, that began with their grandfather Ronald Lynam. Ronald (as we’ve heard multiple times before) was involved with signals and codebreaking in the Pacific Theater of WWII. Max’s father, Donald, continued the tradition, and Max himself left university to begin officer training at Australia’s Royal Military College Duntroon, then worked in Defence Intelligence Secure Communications at Watsonia Barracks in Melbourne.

Dr. Wright worked for Lasseter’s Casino and often talked about building online trading and tokenization networks to help users transfer and withdraw money in their own local currencies.

The Bitcoin-specific portion of Max Lynam’s testimony is similar to that of his father, Donald Lynam, at last year’s trial in Florida against Ira Kleiman. In 2008, Dr. Wright asked the families for permission to trial-run some software on their computers. Although they had installed large servers to run their e-commerce business, the machines still required upgrading to do this.

The year is important since the earliest version of the Bitcoin protocol wasn’t released to the public until January 2009. However, the machines continued to run the software for another couple of years.

Max says he never knew exactly what the software was doing. However, he understood it to be some kind of transaction validation process for one of Dr. Wright’s digital tokenization systems. The family eventually wound up its e-commerce business in 2011 following a collapse in high-end exports after the Global Financial Crisis and simply disposed of all the hardware (which by that stage was getting too old to be useful).

It was only in 2011, when he and Dr. Wright’s families met in Melbourne, that Wright became more specific about everything. He asked if Lynam still had the machines and told him he should have kept them, as the ~6,500 coins they’d “mined” might be worth a lot of money someday. Lynam says he wasn’t familiar with the term “mining” and wasn’t too concerned about the machines being gone—even in 2011, 6,500 bitcoins wasn’t worth enough to worry about it.

Like other witnesses at this trial and the Kleiman trial, Lynam describes how he’d come to understand Wright’s interest in blockchain and digital tokenization systems via a series of random conversations and chats. These conversations happened over several years, forming jigsaw puzzle pieces that finally came together when Dr. Wright was eventually “outed” as Satoshi Nakamoto at the end of 2015.

Prior to that year, Lynam says he’d always known Dr. Wright was the inventor (or, as he put it, “chief engineer”) of the Bitcoin project. However, Lynam himself had never paid much attention to Bitcoin goings-on nor about the mystique surrounding its pseudonymous inventor. Once Wright was publicly connected to the name Satoshi Nakamoto, Lynam thought it was great that Wright would get some recognition for his work.

Granath’s counsel spends only a few minutes cross-examining Lynam, asking about specific dates and timeframes he’d heard details of Dr. Wright’s projects and whether Lynam had ever read the Bitcoin white paper.

Lynam’s testimony does not definitively solve the mystery of “Satoshi Nakamoto’s” real-world identity. However, there’s little doubt Dr. Wright was interested in, and actively working on, building Bitcoin and its blockchain structure before anyone in the outside world became aware of it. Despite the spin you might hear in other media sectors, Wright has a strong background in coding and specifically in online currencies and tokenization, and enough sworn testimony from various sources exists now to make a compelling argument.

Watch the Granath vs Wright Satoshi Norway Trial Coverage Livestream Recaps on the CoinGeek YouTube channel.

New to Bitcoin? Check out CoinGeek’s Bitcoin for Beginners section, the ultimate resource guide to learn more about Bitcoin—as originally envisioned by Satoshi Nakamoto—and blockchain.

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