Hidden Inside MacOS, the Bitcoin Whitepaper

Someone has hidden the Bitcoin Whitepaper inside every copy of MacOS shipped since 2017.

Back in April 2021, a user by the name of bernd178 on the MacOS Community Forum noticed that buried within the Image Capture Utility is a function called Virtual Scanner II, which is not enabled by default.

Hidden within Virtual Scanner II is a nondescript image of a bay in San Francisco, and a PDF copy of the Bitcoin Whitepaper.

“Weirdly, there is also a PDF with the original Bitcoin white paper from Satoshi Nakamoto in the VirtualScanner.app Package Content,” bernd178 wrote.

“I find it hard to believe anyone cares,” added a user named Barney-15E, in response to bernd178’s post.

Recently this was re-discovered by blogger Andy Baio and published on his blog Waxy. Baio noted that you can open a copy of the whitepaper by entering the following commands into the terminal app:

open /System/Library/Image Capture/Devices/VirtualScanner.app/Contents/Resources/simpledoc.pdf

“Of all the documents in the world, why was the Bitcoin whitepaper chosen? Is there a secret Bitcoin maxi working at Apple? The filename is “simpledoc.pdf” and it’s only 184 KB,” writes Baio on Waxy. “Maybe it was just a convenient, lightweight multipage PDF for testing purposes, never meant to be seen by end users.”

There’s also another angle to note. Craig Wright has been attempting to copyright the Bitcoin whitepaper and has been suing – unsuccessfully – places that host it. This may have been an internal act of defiance by a coder working at Apple, a company too big for Wright to sue.

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In February 2023, Wright lost a copyright claim in a U.K Court regarding the whitepaper.

“I do not see any prospect of the law as currently stated and understood in the case law allowing copyright protection of subject matter which is not expressed or fixed anywhere,” Judge James Mellor said at the time in a ruling for the High Court of England and Wales. “It remains the case that no relevant ‘work’ has been identified containing content which defines the structure of the Bitcoin File Format.”

It will likely be a mystery as to why this PDF was included, though many will be checking to see if it is in MacOS 14, which is expected to launch later this year.

It will also be interesting to see if Apple takes note of this, and removes it via its regular cadence of patches pushed out to MacOS users.

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Apple did not respond to a request for comment from CoinDesk by press time.

Edited by Parikshit Mishra.

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