Some early emails of the Cypherpunk group contain traces of a payment system like Bitcoin. The group included numerous privacy advocates, cryptographers, and techies who were active in the 1990s.
Hal Finney’s description of Bitcoin
Hal Finney proposed an improvement on Digital Cash by David Chaum, creating the earliest known references to Bitcoin. Finney wrote to his fellow cypherpunks,
“Alice and Bob could be pseudonyms, using anonymous addresses to communicate with each other and with the bank … If these problems can be solved, a big advantage of this approach is that the banker can be anonymous. He would be known only by his anonymous address and his public key(s). This would provide some safety in the event that even a small-scale experiment like this was targeted for a crackdown.”
He was referring to a payment system that became Bitcoin almost a decade later. Note that Satoshi Nakamoto’s real identity is unknown, and nobody knows for sure if he was associated with cypherpunks. The email which contains Finney’s remarks were sent back in November 1992. Note that a lot of crypto community members suspect that Hal Finney is the real Satoshi Nakamoto.
What did the cypherpunks think of digital cash?
Some cypherpunks talked about the possibility of the ability to connect digital anonymous transactions with bank accounts. In February 1993, Alan Hetzel, another cypherpunk, said that there is a possibility that the anonymous digital cash is used by criminal minds. He said that someone could send a note to someone else, asking them for a ransom in digital untraceable cash. This would be a difficult scenario for digital cash.
He also added that “jerks” could use it as a means to earn some extra cash by mailing hundreds of people anonymously and threatening them. Some of these people could even pay him off. Note that Bitcoin does not provide total and complete anonymity to the users. However, it is still quite an opaque system because of which hackers and ransomware attackers prefer to use it. Now, they are shifting to coins like Monero, which adds much more anonymity in the digital ecosystem.