A digital copy of the original Bitcoin whitepaper that had been hidden on Macintosh computers for more than five years is not part of an upcoming operating system update from Apple, AppleInsider reported Tuesday.
The late discovery of the PDF document went viral three weeks ago, and it represented only the latest in a long line of easter eggs that Apple (or its employees, more likely) have planted over the last several decades. It seems to have gone unnoticed by Apple’s millions of users until 2020, when designer Joshua Dickens posted about it to Twitter. Someone who read his post started a thread in Apple’s support forums in April 2021.
Here’s a mystery: why do I have an Image Capture device called Virtual Scanner II on my Mac? It shows a preview of a painted sign that for some reason closely resembles a photo by @thomashawk on ‘clustershot’? But not exactly — the scanned version looks more weathered. pic.twitter.com/jPb5kx3NyS
— Josh D (@schwa23) November 28, 2020
It didn’t garner much more attention, however, until noted technologist Andy Baio wrote about it last month.
“Of all the documents in the world, why was the Bitcoin whitepaper chosen? Is there a secret Bitcoin maxi working at Apple?” Baio asked. “Maybe it was just a convenient, lightweight multipage PDF for testing purposes, never meant to be seen by end users.”
The discovery even prompted Craig Wright, who has long claimed to be Bitcoin’s pseudonymous creator Satoshi Nakamoto, to suggest that Apple was violating his copyright. Wright had previously got a court order to force the website Bitcoin.org to remove a copy of the paper in 2021, but the website refused to comply.
According to participants in Apple’s Beta Software Program, upcoming version 13.4 of MacOS Ventura do not contain the file, nor the other elements with which it was initially bundled—a test driver for a virtual scanner to allow developers to work with the operating system’s image capture module. The files were never intended to be discovered by average users, located in hidden system files.
Alongside the Bitcoin whitepaper PDF was a photo of a sign at Treasure Island in San Francisco.
Baio later said that a source inside Apple told him that the presence of the paper was filed as a developer work ticket last year and was assigned to the same person who initially placed the whitepaper in the system. At the time, however, the ticket hadn’t been acted upon.
“They’ve indicated it will likely be removed in future versions,” Baio said.