code breakers

10 Stories

Man Behind Secret Code at CIA Offers New Hint

Kryptos' final secret message includes phrase 'Berlin clock'

(Newser) - Jim Sanborn punched four messages into his curved copper sculpture, which has sat outside CIA headquarters in Langley, Va., since 1990. The first three messages of "Kryptos" were decoded by NSA cryptographers in 1993, then by fans in 1999. The 97-character fourth message, however, has stumped code breakers for... More »

Coded Civil-War Diary Dishes on 1st Lady's Race

Southern officer James Malbone pens diary behind the lines

(Newser) - A wounded Confederate officer found time for a little fun during the Civil War while working behind the lines—by gossiping in his diary, and in code no less. The diary of James Malbone, now at the New York State Military Museum, includes entries on the Confederacy's first lady... More »

Brit Who Cracked Hitler's Code Dies at 93

Raymond "Jerry" Roberts remembered

(Newser) - Britain has lost one of its last World War II code breakers, credited with shortening the war by at least two years and saving millions of lives. Raymond "Jerry" Roberts—who died at 93 after a short illness—served as a German linguist and cryptographer at Britain's premier... More »

100-Year-Old Hoax May Be 600-Year-Old Code

UK researchers find new patterns in mysterious manuscript

(Newser) - Many people believe that the Voynich manuscript—a book found in 1912 written in an unknown language with images of plants and astronomy—is a hoax. Cryptographers, mathematicians, and linguists have been trying to decipher the supposedly 15th-century text found by book dealer Wilfrid Voynich in 1912 for 100 years,... More »

Mathematician Finally Cracks POW's Coded Letters

Hidden messages inside letters sent during WWII

(Newser) - British soldier John Pryor sent letters home to his family from a Nazi POW camp for five years during World War II. Seventy years later, they finally know what he actually wrote. A mathematician at Plymouth University has deciphered the coded messages hidden inside the innocuous-looking letters for the first... More »

Students Crack Shorthand of Rhode Island's Founder

Brown University math major figures out notes of Roger Williams

(Newser) - The obscure book's margins are virtually filled with clusters of curious foreign characters—a mysterious shorthand used by 17th-century religious dissident Roger Williams. For centuries the scribbles went undeciphered. But a team of Brown University students has finally cracked the code. Historians call the now-readable writings the most significant... More »

FBI Wants You to Crack Code in 12-Year-Old Murder

They're hoping amateur puzzle fans can solve notes found on St. Louis man

(Newser) - The FBI’s best cryptanalysts haven’t been able to crack a mysterious code found in the pocket of a murder victim 12 years ago—so they’re hoping you can do it. Ricky McCormick, 41, was found dead in a Missouri field in 1999, and the bizarre notes in... More »

How a Nerdy Double Agent Fooled Hitler

New document sheds light on spy saga behind Normandy

(Newser) - Juan Pujol Garcia didn’t look much like a secret agent. “He was no James Bond—he was a balding, boring, unsmiling little man,” one former associate says. Yet his double-agent exploits helped end World War II. A new document, published yesterday for the first time by the... More »

Spy Was Studying Bondage for New Undercover Role: Pal

It was only a ruse for his work, says friend

(Newser) - A British codebreaker spy who police believe may have been accidentally suffocated during bondage sex merely appeared to be into kinky sex for a new undercover identity he was taking on for his super secret work, a friend has told investigators. Gareth Williams of MI6 was studying bondage websites and... More »

Outside the CIA, a Secret Code Begs to Be Broken

The man behind the Kryptos sculpture offers a clue

(Newser) - The CIA is home to many secrets, but perhaps none so tempting as those punched into a sculpture that sits in its courtyard. Erected in 1990, "Kryptos" features four undulating panels of copper that contain four secret puzzles, three of which were solved in 1999. But the fourth continues... More »

10 Stories