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THE MYSTERIES OF
CRYPTOGRAPHY EXPLANATION OF SOME OF THE FAMOUS CIPHER CODES THAT HAVE CARRIED MESSAGES OF WAR, LOVE AND BUSINESS Neill C. Wilson WHEN J. Ogden Armour flashed a message of three letters across the Atlant!c from France to his agent in Chicago, a few months ag^o. thft result was a transfer ence of nearly 53.000,000, or $1,000,000 a letter, from the pocket of James A. Pat ten, the "wheat king," to his own. That message was the signal for which the Chicago agent had been expectantly •waiting, ordering him to plunge into the wheat pit and crush the famous but meteoric financier to the wall. The three letters spelled "NOW." Armour undoubtedly sent that laconic message in cipher. If lie had used the historic one Illustrated by figure 11, putting his own name In the left hand vertical column occupied by the let ters "CHARLES," the message would have appeared in the form of the three letters heading this article. The tantalizing science of cryptog raphy has mystified, aided and baffled every age In every clime of which his tory is recorded. The hidden meanings of the Egyptian hieroglyphics on an cient tombs, pyramids and carved on the sand swept sides of the sphinx it relf are to our puzzled eyes only cryptic forms. Secret messages. In tended to be readable only by the pos sessor of . the cipher, or key, have played a notable part in European court history. They have aided and abetted wholesale royal crime and in trigue. The beautiful Mary Stuart. Queen of Scots, left numerous ciphers and cryptic messages, now in the hands of the British foreign office. Figure 4 illustrates her capacity for this sort of Intrigue. The Three Laws' of Cryptography L«ord Francis Bacon, in his cele brated work, "De Augmcntls Scientia rum," worked out a number of ingen ious cipher systems. So zealous was he is this regard* that it is still a moot question as to whether the so called Shakespearian plays of the "nrst fo lio" edition are not his handiwork, containing within themselves hidden messages for later generations which he, statesman and courtier, did not dare to deliver in his own time. - Be that as it may, Lord Bacon laid down the following three laws as necessary requisites of a good cipher: First, that it be easy.to write and read; sec ond, that It be difficult of detection; third, that it be void of. suspicion— the last meaning that the message be writ ten in such a manner as to raise no suspicion of its containing a* hidden meaning. One of the most masterly of all ci phers, attributed to Russian nihilists. is illustrated by figure 2. Of all known cryptic systems this most nearly ap proaches the ideal laid down by Lord Bacon. This cipher is known among stu dents of the science as the "checker board.V Its principle lies in the fact that there is a common peculiarity in handwriting that all letters of a word are not properly connected and that imperceptible intervals or -"breaks" oc cur .between letters composing words. In the. letter shown' in figure 2 the "breaks" have been designedly made, in certain places, to convey a secret meaning through dividing the letters Into groups. If is understood between the correspondents that where^the last stroke of a last letter of a word points downward, that letter is held to- be connected' with the first letter of a succeeding word, and where the last letter of a word points upward, such letter completes a cipher group. The letter in figure 2 is in appearance so unsophisticated and harmless that It can be imagined as passing the inspec tion of the most vigilant guard, but broken into the proper groups of one or more letters, as > . It will be seen that the numerals; which represent the number of letters in each' group, furnish the cipher -text of a communication. As the conclud ing group contains more than five let ters, without a "break," they indicate that the succeeding words have no^sig nificance. Each two consecutive groups designate a secret letter/as shown in the key, figure 3; the unit' figures being represented at the top.* and the 10 fig ures at thejleft of the key; thus: \u25a0-: 32 designates it, the intersecting letter of the 2 unit column with thatof the 3 of the 10 figures and so on, the entire hid den message reading: • "Paul arrested. Plot known. Fly." * Secret Ciphers of British; Royalty George 111 has left with the British foreign office a cipher, part of which is shown by figure 0. The five numbers, 58, 17, 24, 90 and 87, were used to in dicate which of the five alphabets rep resented the letters of the original mes sage. Arbitrary signs and numbers were used in conjunction with the'gen eral key to represent code words and individuals. The British foreign office reveled in complicated ciphers in .< the ; eighteenth century. They possessed little ingenu ity, an d were d ifflcul t ! to write 6"t.~ to decipher.. Here are, a few of the printed /'. directions. appended to^one of them: . - \u25a0 "The number 92/ after, another figure, cuts off all "the syllables of that; word, or words of that phrase, except the jlrst:" / - . ./-..- "...,.;\u25a0, "Thie number 223 takes off one letter from the beginning of the subsequent word or syllable. "The number 392, after 'any other: figure, cuts off one letter from the end of the preceding word or syllable. "The number 413, after another fig ure, cuts off all syllables of that word, or. words ' of • that phrase, except the first."- ' \u25a0\u25a0\u25a0/./ \ -/:---... Turn now from these cumbrous ciph ers to one of such subtlety aridYngenu ity that it nas earned the title of •//. :.V \u25a0'i :-,:; . . "Sphinx." It is illustrated by figure 11. It is of the double key variety, the keys consisting of. 26 alphabets, -irregularly arranged, and a, -such \as "Charles,", to be : used -in conjunction. Assuming, this, pass word, ; let.lt be pre sumed ; that . a foreign agent desired to forward to hlsgoyernment the message "War declared by Spain." The letters of the password Indicate which =of - the alphabets, /running- from right -to, left, are 'to ' be -'used 'in conjunction with the ordinary alphabet: at ;. the top of the cipher. \ The- first letter ; of the message is written in the alphabet: of the first letter of < the ; password, \u25a0 the"^ second jiri the second, etc.'/ For /example,; the for eign « agent /would ; arrange the letters of the password;! under the letters of his 'message thus: \u25a0 , WAR DECLARED: BY. SPAIN CHA RLESCHAR L.S SCHAR V The first letter^ of ; the; cipher -would be represented, by" the letter iat; the In tersection of the .vertical column "c6m- v mencing' with W with.that of the hori zontal line commencing with .C;.t the next ') would be at; the V intersection ? of A and L; the completed message would stand . -.>'- ' ' '\u25a0'.'-\u25a0 ./ XCU HJISBTHH. GE ZQCLR V. With the /"Sphinx," the . password may/; be changed after, each word, /or as often as : desired,? depending. oriVthe , prearranged" ''agreement v. between*- the correspondents. ' lt ; is seldom' that, the same;; character^ represents .the /sanie 1 ; letter ; of \u25a0 thej original -message twicer o wi rig : ; to * t he / r eg u jar i y "c hanging -a 1 -'/ pluibet. For "example, 'in thcV. above message, 'i the .'letter 'A^ is,- reprcsarited twice by the letter C arid bnee-by the letter B; the lettar R by . U and T; the two E's by Jarid H./ The result is i that .the message can not /be trans lated, by the ordinary system explained later in this article.. \u0084 Numerical ciphers were popular with the British foreign office in the seven teenth /century. /An example of- one used in correspondence with: the am bassador at Venice is shown by Figure 5. A long list of persons and charac- . ters h intended ' to represent them \u25a0 fs \ \u25a0 appended] to the'origihal. / VV, , \u25a0V A facsimile ot a phonetic cipher, writ-/ ten and initialed by; Charles I is -pre-* sen ted in figure 13. 'The phonetic dots and ' dashes designate letters of the al phabet, "i Another: specimen of a cipher key, used by the government' during , the^ reign of, Charles I, is reproduced in figure;, 7. Each- letter of the alpha bet is represented by two letters in : the cipher. The instructions*, accompany-, ing ;the : ; key are as follows: . "This ; "cypher; is 'made doble (double), going; twise - over; the alphabet "only . for fl.va-:; rietle ;. to * make it harder "to "be - de- ;\u25a0 ciphered. When "i writin g aine . ;. thing ."\u25a0 (anything) in this cypher you are to make use of letters to express" your > words, you are i riot to use the \ letter -] itself,'. but; in place thereof to set down .' two letters. , one such letter 'of -the - woord Optimusas, is set. 'directly /over; the '\u25a0 letter you mearie ; arid /the other.'; such letter of the word Dominus as; is : directly', opposite the " said letter you meane to write." / , A facsimile of a small part of a'nu^/ merical cipher , used -in the time* of r Charles II is shown"- i_rt figure 8., A- part? of a voluminous and unweildy,: cipher * used by the British government during . the reign of "George I- Is presentediin flgure/i;lo. ' Th"c ; key/f consists /of a- five^ squares.' : each V possessing' a^ separate^ code!*' ? The • message *% was % turned into' numerical t fractions, . the ; numerators in dicating jthe- square/ or '-'code.' ; ' / ' .' Some Odd Cryptograms : /.» Secret; message ""i writing ; has; been \u25a0 put ' 1 ; to Tsoriie J?odd /uses; ! / In days,TJ; when' postage Vrates' used Uo be prohibit"-'/ 1 ve;'f it iwas ; : at common = think?: for \ work- ; ; / ingmen'. in', foreign countries to- r com municate f. with 'their: friends by under •i scoring, the \u25a0 words " ; of.,a' : newspaper, .; which, read in ; the \u25a0'proper order/, would ; : furnish \u25a0'; all-] the % words = ' in ' proper '\u25a0' se quence;, of a ' letter. " This principle was ; carried ; even further, * and % before ithe .;. days r of; prepaid; postage. -messages' in >cipher ; were, known ;to be written/on 1 the -envelopes? of letters, so that- the • recipient, -after I glancing at the \u25a0 wrap ;.per, /could /return -the -missive : td; the .postman, as -unaccepted,*; thus escaping ; the paymerit.of while the mes i sage 'of : : the sender had \ been 'duly; re^ •jceived. / : : r .'•'.'\u25a0,- '// :: " ";•/ - •;>:Many. chemical Jinks .have been-iitil : ized ; in"- "invisible '! writing." / '-Messages' written in such; inks \u25a0 are ; to be held iln \u25a0 f the ; heat i of 'aV fire jor; steeped > in ', other! /chemicals 'before ; they rare • rendered', in- Jtelllgible; ./There ; ; are ; many suchf inksj : : on7 the ; market? today; £ and \ a ;" passable >one';can be! made ?6ut of ; lemon': juice." This.l however, 1^ falls /outside of the realm \of cryptographyj proper. < ; Ordinary^ playing >' cards ; : have* '•\u25a0i been 'iused. f orj cryptic (messages,' the different ?i values , of ; the cards [and' suits - ['ing/alphabetic'letters-'ir-AVclever method ; consistedlin ;;the' ( correspondents v " pre y- viously ,'? agreeing - upon* < a' sequence v of : \u25a0?. six \u25a0\u25a0 of imorejeards jf romVa /? pack "-of $ 52,. \u25a0x and writing; on] the backs; onellettenon ',-each^jcafd- 'consecutively, f commencing .: with, .the J.- first /card :' of>' the.' sequence/; /If } the I sequenceUjonsi'sted | of . eight "cards • : the ninth . letter". would"; be ' placed Vunder-i \u25a0'-\u25a0.'\u25a0*(• •">\u25a0"" .\u25a0f '.\u25a0'. "\u25a0"\u25a0:\u25a0\u25a0'\u25a0\u25a0='. -V-"V*,, -*: ';\u25a0 • \u25a0 '\u25a0* "• \u25a0 >' \u25a0 * neath the first letter written, and so on.-' The remaining cards would be cov ered' with letter?— nullities — and the \u25a0whole pack, shuffled. T' \u25a0- Recipient of . the "communication wnu.n arrange the cards in the sequence previously agreed upon, and -would readily* read off the .message. : .This method would be varied by using.; a* sequence consisting of the .whole pack,~6i\with .whole-words writ-: ten ? in," place .'of single" letters.. 712 f; illustrates ah interesting "musical" /cipher. The score may be ; written; in i any, key," and in ;eitherj treble ' 0r.5 bass."'/ For .'the ? ; sake : of making it niore /difficult; of : - translation ; by; outside parties ; any number 'of: nullltiesmayb© introduced.'^^^Sf^^^^^^B@Q9ggMßH •.^ The receipt of a piece of string. ;per <haps .tied about a package., may 'contain^ a 'secret t message. Figure; 6 illustrates ,the<key to such acipher. knots placed fat f certain Intervals would not be: apt tot cause suspicion; butilf placed 'over, the 'r key "'. card" could readily spell a message./* -/; There, is "practically no field of secret communication that has , not '^been" dis covered \u25a0 and utilized by \u25a0 prisoners seek - ing aid i from^ their i friends . outside; -by persons: engaged in \>- intrigue, laudable or| otherwise; by< criminals, -by govern- '• merits and by spies. :J They offer, a f as ciriating: field for. study. -In'.Hterature, too,'? they have ' ; played an Important role.\ Yet.-.tnlspite of ; the subtlety that such .messages; can-. contain,'. a -student of) the science sooner or later, comes to The San Francisco Sunday Call agree with Poe, that master of eryptol ogy. when he says that there i 3 no cipher message which the mind of man can devise which the mind of man. whether- possessed of the key or not. can not decipher. Cipher coramunlca 't':;is are common in business today, aUnough^not of a very complex order. That such messages can be translated by outside parties, and that there are regular rules to follow in the unmask ing of such* mysteries, has. been shown many times. This set of rule 3 will be explained farther on. Crytography in Literature : In the world of literature mystic cryptograms, containing. within them selves the keys to crime, intrigue, bur ied treasure and hidden mystery, have been a wonderfully prolific field. In recent years Conan Doyle, utilizing the marvelous perception of Sherlock Holmes, has given us one of the best cryptogram stories ever written. Tt is "The Adventure, of th<? Dancing Men." In this tale strips of paper, bearing grotesque sketches of figures waving flags at different angles, furnish the great detective with material for dis closing one of the most bizarre crimes in all of Doctor Watson's annals. Every one has r*ad Edgar Allen Foe's famous tale. "The Gold Bug." In that remarkable story it will be re membered that an amateur cryptog rapher. Legrand, comes into the pos session of a strange cryptogram (fig ure It) which discloses to him it 3 se cret of a buried treasure left by Cap tain-Kidd on a sandy Carolina shore. Poe's: method of deciphering that script ' has laid the basis of all cryptogram reading; since. His ingenious method Is too lon^r to be detailed here, but rests roughly ;upon " the fact that the letter E.-j predominates .Immensely over all others In a bit of writing, even a sin "&le:paragraph: Next -In their order of occurence are A, O. I. D. H X R. «?_ T, \U, T. C, F. G. L. M. W. B. X,* P? Q, X, Z. This rule does hot by any means hold, absolutely, especially in a short cryptogram. But by counting the char acters In his mystic bit of writing in i the order of their numerical occur rence, and supplying a liberal amount of guesswork • and , lngenious deduction he finally arrived at the meaning and discovered the hiding place of the booty of 1 the famous. - doughty ; old Spanish main pirate. ;Wlth J this hint any one possessing a , reasonable amount .", of cle vernesi should^ be! able* to work out- a transla tion^of the^telegram printed aa flaur* 1 un this paga.