Len Sassaman: the man memorialized in blockchain

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Len Sassaman is another possible contender to be Satoshi Nakamoto. "I've moved on to other things and probably won't be around in the future," shortly after this last message from the BTC creator, Sassaman committed suicide.
Source: Wikimedia

Source: Wikimedia

Terrible food and no girls

In one of the bitcoin network nodes (block 138725), among the code icons, we can see a face – smooth hair, and a beard. The caption reads "LEN "rabbi" SASSAMA. 1980-2011. Len was our friend. A brilliant mind, a kind soul, and a devious schemer."

Sassaman's career is closely related to cryptography and protocol development. At 18, he graduated from The Hill School. It is considered one of the best Protestant boarding schools in the United States. The Hill School was totally monastic – horrible food, no girls. Some graduates claim that Spartan conditions teach discipline, concentration, perseverance, and performance. As for Sassaman, he graduated from The Hill School as a cypherpunk, a privacy advocate, and a man with symptoms of clinical depression.

A hacker and a scientist

Like many prominent programmers of that generation, Sassaman was a self-taught technologist. He didn't have money for college. Before graduating from The Hill School, Len was already involved in the Internet Engineering Task. An informal group of volunteers standardizing Internet protocols (TCP/IP). At 19, Len became close friends with Bram Cohen, the creator of BitTorrent. He moved closer to Bram in San Francisco and joined the legendary community of cypherpunks. Satoshi first announced Bitcoin on the cypherpunk mailing list.

Despite his lack of education, Sassaman becomes a Ph.D. student in the Computer Security and Industrial Cryptography (COSIC) research group at Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium. Len worked on P2P networks under the leadership of David Chaum. The latter is considered the godfather of cryptocurrency. His dissertation proposed all elements of the blockchain except for PoW.

Sassaman also worked as a Security Architect and Senior Systems Engineer at Anonymizer, Inc., one of the first companies in the field of web privacy. Today, ‘anonymizer’ refers to any anonymization tool (just like people started using the word ‘xerox’ as a synonym of ‘photocopy’). At Network Associates, Len developed the PGP encryption software (Satoshi hoped Bitcoin could become “the same thing for money” that PGP was for securing files). Sassaman is a regular attendee at the annual DEF CON hacker conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. With Bram Cohen, he organized CodeCon hacker meetings, where BitTorrent was first introduced to the world. 
The quest for knowledge is a fundamental part of being human. Any kind of prior restraint against that is in my opinion a violation of our freedom of thought and conscious. So, not only am I hopeful that we can avoid overly restrictive knee-jerk legislation. ...The goal was oppression, not regulation.
, Len Sassaman.

The victory of privacy over death

At one of the CodeCons conference, Len proposed to returning speaker Meredith Patterson. Meredith is a programmer and blogger who inspired the biopunk movement. Their union was an example of a charismatic computer super-couple. In 2011, Meredith reported the tragic death of her husband. Len committed suicide, unable to bear the attacks of a neurological disease that progressed.

Till the last day, Sassaman worked for COSIC. He published 45 scientific papers and participated in 20 conferences during this time. Among his major projects is the Pynchon Gate technology, which became an essential part of the Byzantine Generals' Problem solution.

At a Black Hat briefing (a conference on computer security for hackers, corporations, and government agencies) held in 2011, Dan Kaminsky, labeled as an "Internet security savior" by The New York Times, told the computer community that the memorial in honor of Sassaman is permanently embedded in the bitcoin blockchain.

Len remained true to his ideas of privacy even after his death. His laptop was encrypted, and the password was lost.

Len’s Memorial on the Bitcoin Blockchain

Source: Wikipedia

Source: Wikipedia