Apple Purges Bitcoin White Paper in Latest MacOS Update

The Bitcoin white paper, hidden in Apple’s older versions, can’t be found on the beta version of the latest Ventura update

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Source: Shutterstock / Rcc_Btn, modified by Blockworks

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Once you update your Mac to the latest beta version of the Apple operating system, you’ll no longer be able to find the original Bitcoin white paper that was deeply embedded into some older versions.

The Bitcoin white paper was first discovered on Apple’s system files by blogger Andy Baio on April 5. He told Blockworks that he accidentally located it while trying to fix his wireless printer, which wasn’t showing up in Image Capture after he upgraded his MacOS. 

Apple removed the document from the MacOS Ventura 13.4 beta 3, which rolled out to developers on Tuesday, 9to5mac reported on April 25.

Most users likely won’t have access to the latest beta version yet. So, you’ll still be able to locate the file by executing a command in Terminal or otherwise unpacking the contents of a hidden file, simpledoc.pdf.

Baio noticed a device named “Virtual Scanner II” that he hadn’t come across before. He only found sparse information about it online, including one Twitter thread mentioning where the files for the device were located on the system. Baio used a command he wrote for Terminal to confirm the location of the files and his friends confirmed that they could see the same.

The file can be found in all versions of MacOS from Mojave (10.14.0), released in 2018, up to the current Ventura (13.3), but isn’t present in High Sierra (10.13) or earlier versions, Baio noted.

The discovery prompted lively discussions in an Apple online forum marked by a mixture of bemusement and indignation at the presence of “a Bitcoin manifesto.”

“I struggle to understand why a file like this would be allowed into any kind of App code on OS X,” one user wrote. “I’d ask the powers that be to please remove if not needed. And double check that similar hidden assets are not allowed into future updates.”

Others were more sympathetic. “I wouldn’t read much into this,” another user replied. “Some developer likely had a keen interest in the technology behind Bitcoin…It provides a rather sophisticated scanner test.”

The VirtualScanner internal tool reportedly enabled Apple’s engineers to replicate the process of scanning and exporting documents and images using the Image Capture app, without the requirement of a physical scanner. Apparently, this in-house tool has been eliminated from the beta version.

9to5Mac said the revelation confirmed its hypothesis that the Bitcoin white paper and the internal tool were not intended to be accessed by ordinary users. Apple didn’t respond to Blockworks’ request for comment by press time.

The discovery of the hidden white paper generated speculation about the genuine identity of Satoshi Nakamoto, with some imagining that Apple CEO Tim Cook could be the pseudonymous bitcoin developer.

The most rational explanation, according to 9to5Mac, is that Apple’s engineers may have disregarded removing this tool from previous public releases of MacOS as it didn’t contain any confidential information.


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