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Cryptogram

Encrypted word puzzle

A cryptogram is a short piece of text encrypted with a simple substitution cipher in which each letter is replaced by a different letter. To solve the puzzle, one must recover the original lettering. Though once used in more serious applications, they are now mainly printed for entertainment in newspapers and magazines. The level of difficulty of puzzles can be very simple to very complex.

Solving a Cryptogram
This is usually done by frequency analysis and by recognizing letter patterns in words, such as one letter words, which can only be "I" or "a". Occasionally cryptogram puzzle makers will start the solver off with a few letters.

The Cryptogram is also the name of the periodic publication of the American Cryptogram Association (ACA), which contains a large number of cryptographic puzzles.

History of Cryptograms
Cryptograms were not first used as entertainment, but in the Spartan military in 5th century B.C. This code consisted of a staff around which a strip of paper was wrapped without overlapping. A message was written on the paper, which was then unwrapped and sent on it's way. The message could only be correctly decoded with the right width of stick. Julius Caesar invented the first substitution cypher, one which still bears his name.

The Cryptogram was first used for entertainment during the Middle Ages by monks with spare time. Around the 13th century, the English monk Roger Bacon wrote a book in which he listed seven cipher methods, and stated that "a man is crazy who writes a secret in any other way than one which will conceal it from the vulgar". During the Rennaisance, cryptograms were used to political ends.


Source: Wikipedia


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