The Bitcoin white paper has been hiding in plain sight on Apple computers.
Blogger Andy Baio recently revealed that an innocuous file, "simpledoc.pdf," included as part of Apple operating system MacOS, contains a copy of the foundational text of Bitcoin, written by pseudonymous founder Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008.
"While trying to fix my printer today, I discovered that a PDF copy of Satoshi Nakamoto’s Bitcoin white paper apparently shipped with every copy of macOS since Mojave in 2018." Baio wrote on his Waxy blog, "I’ve asked over a dozen Mac-using friends to confirm, and it was there for every one of them."
Although Baio uncovered the mysterious easter egg on Satoshi Nakamoto's purported 48th birthday, April 5th, 2023, it’s not the first time it’s been sighted. Twitter user Joshua Dickens, a former Apple product designer, first discovered the white paper lurking in MacOS in 2020, but his tweet did not gain much traction.
Weirdly, there's also a PDF of the original Bitcoin white paper: pic.twitter.com/JjPnI4fyzc
— Josh D (@schwa23) November 28, 2020
How to find the Bitcoin white paper on Apple computers
The Bitcoin white paper can be found on Apple computers running macOS Mojave or later, by entering the following command into Terminal:
open /System/Library/Image\ Capture/Devices/VirtualScanner.app/Contents/Resources/simpledoc.pdf
Alternatively, using Finder, navigate to the Macintosh HD -> System -> Library -> Image Capture -> Devices, and open the Contents -> Resources folder, where you’ll find the file “simpledoc.pdf.”
The white paper appears to be used as a sample document for the image capture device Virtual Scanner II, with Apple site MacRumors suggesting that it could be a sample document for a system for transferring photos from iOS devices to Macs.
In his 2020 Twitter thread, Dickens highlighted another peculiar file, named cover.jpg, in the same folder. This has been confirmed to be a photograph taken by Thomas Hawk named Warning Alarm System, taken on Treasure Island in San Francisco in 2008.
In 2021, a thread was made on the Apple forum to discuss these findings but, again, gained very little traction. One user even commented, "I find it hard to believe anyone cares."
How did the Bitcoin white paper end up on Apple computers?
The Bitcoin white paper, titled "Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System," sets out the thesis for a decentralized cash based on a public ledger, essentially birthing Bitcoin and cryptocurrency in turn.
It is unclear why or how the Bitcoin white paper ended up on Apple systems. The company has a long history of including easter eggs in its products, however, including references to “Star Wars” and “Lord of the Rings." Earlier versions of the Macintosh operating system had hidden, playable versions of Tetris, Pong, and snake, and its MacOS and mobile application icons have always featured hidden messages or meanings.
The Bitcoin white paper appears to be the first crypto-related easter egg that has been found buried in Apple software.
Baio himself speculated that the white paper could have been included as an in-joke by a “secret Bitcoin maxi” working at Apple, or simply included as a “convenient, lightweight multipage PDF for testing purposes, never meant to be seen by end users."
Its inclusion on Apple computers is particularly surprising given that the company’s former App Store director Philip Shoemaker has claimed that the company “had a problem with crypto from day one.” Speaking earlier this year, Shoemaker told Decrypt that Apple leadership considered cryptocurrency to be “a Ponzi scheme” and had maintained an arbitrarily harsh stance against crypto and NFTs.
Apple's insistence on imposing its 30% App Store fee on crypto apps prompted many developers to protest its policy, with some calling for a boycott of iOS.
In a 2021 interview, Apple CEO Tim Cook said that he owns some crypto, but that the company had no plans to invest in it as an asset class. “I think it’s reasonable to own it as part of a diversified portfolio,” Cook said.
Decrypt has reached out to Apple for comment and will update this article should we receive a response.