He died in 2014 of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
Finney was a programmer on PGP 2.0 and worked for PGP Corporation until it was acquired by Symantec in 2010. PGP, which stands for Pretty Good Privacy, was a popular, freely available cryptography tool developed in the 1990s for use in email and other applications.
Reusable Proof of Work
In 2004, Finney published to the Cypherpunks group an invitation to try his new digital currency (Reusable Proof Of Work tokens, or "RPOWs") at rpow.net. Based on advances in cryptography at the time, RPOWs were an improvement on current attempts because the spending of an RPOW automatically created a new unique RPOW and destroyed the old one, preventing double use of a token. The Cypherpunks were a group of cryptography developers who in the 1990s began to conceptualize virtual currencies whose value would not be dependent on any organization or government.
Finney was an early advocate of bitcoin and he reportedly received the first transmission of a bitcoin from Satoshi Nakamoto. In 2014, Newsweek Magazine discovered that a programmer named Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto was residing in Temple City, California, and posited that he was the true inventor of bitcoin. When this hypothesis was demonstrated to have a low probability of being true it was noted that Temple City is where Hal Finney also resided. Many observers believed that this could not be a coincidence and that Finney had used Nakamoto as a psuedonym. Finney denied being the true Satoshi Nakamoto.
Finney received a BS in Engineering from the California Institute of Technology in 1979.
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