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1843: Publication of first installments of "The Gold Bug" by Poe

Friday, June 21, 2019
1843: Publication of first installments of "The Gold Bug" by Poe

21 June 1843: Publication of the first installments of the influential cryptologic story, "The Gold Bug," by Edgar Allen Poe.

Poe had become aware of the public's interest in secret writing in 1840 and asked readers to challenge his or her skills as a code-breaker. Poe took advantage of the popularity of cryptography as he was writing "The Gold-Bug," and the success of the story centers on one such cryptogram.

Excerpted from Wikipedia:

The story involves cryptography with a detailed description of a method for solving a simple substitution cipher using letter frequencies. The cryptogram is:

53‡‡†305))6*;4826)4‡.)4‡);806*;48†8
¶60))85;;]8*;:‡*8†83(88)5*†;46(;88*96
*?;8)*‡(;485);5*†2:*‡(;4956*2(5*—4)8
¶8*;4069285);)6†8)4‡‡;1(‡9;48081;8:8‡
1;48†85;4)485†528806*81(‡9;48;(88;4
(‡?34;48)4‡;161;:188;‡?;

The decoded message is:

53‡‡†305))6*;4826)4‡.)4‡);806*;48†8
agoodglassinthebishopshostelinthede

¶60))85;;]8*;:‡*8†83(88)5*†;46(;88*96
vilsseattwentyonedegreesandthirteenmi

*?;8)*‡(;485);5*†2:*‡(;4956*2(5*—4)8
nutesnortheastandbynorthmainbranchse

¶8*;4069285);)6†8)4‡‡;1(‡9;48081;8:8‡
venthlimbeastsideshootfromthelefteyeo

1;48†85;4)485†528806*81(‡9;48;(88;4
fthedeathsheadabeelinefromthetreeth

(‡?34;48)4‡;161;:188;‡?;
roughtheshotfiftyfeetout

The decoded message with spaces, punctuation, and capitalization is:

A good glass in the bishop's hostel in the devil's seat
twenty-one degrees and thirteen minutes northeast and by north
main branch seventh limb east side shoot from the left eye of the death's-head
a bee line from the tree through the shot fifty feet out.

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  • GRAB, first reconnaissance satellite, launched. GRAB - ("Galactic Radiation and Background," its cover, or codename TATTLETALE), was the world's first reconnaissance satellite and is on display at the National Cryptologic Museum. Photo from NSA Anniversary Timeline: Naval Research Lab Team at Cape Canaveral for spin test of GRAB1 atop Transit 2A. (Left to right) Martin J. Votaw, George G. Kronmiller, Alfred R. Conover and Roy A. Harding

About Us

The NCMF directly supports the National Cryptologic Museum (NCM), the first public museum in the U.S. Intelligence Community. We think you will agree it is truly a "museum like no other."

Located adjacent to the National Security Agency (NSA) in Maryland, the NCM houses a priceless collection of artifacts that represent our Nation's history in code making and code breaking, as well as a world class library of cryptologic media. The NCMF acquires the best artifacts for the NCM and supports new educational and interactive exhibits.

The NCMF provides exceptional cryptologic programs throughout the year, encourages young minds to explore cryptology and innovation through valued awards, and hosts educational, cryptology-related exhibits at various community events.

As part of the Foundation's partnership with NSA to build the Cyber Center for Education and Innovation - Home of the National Cryptologic Museum (CCEI-NCM), the NCMF also serves as a leader in the field of cybersecurity - striving to provide the best in educational resources and programs.

The NCMF and NCM share a joint three-fold mission to Educate, Stimulate, and Commemorate. Learn more about our MISSION.