Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Jefferson's Wheel Cipher

I thought I'd follow up my post on Jefferson cipher by Patterson, with one on Jefferson's own wheel cipher:
Jefferson's wheel cipher consisted of twenty-six cylindrical wooden pieces, each threaded onto an iron spindle. The letters of the alphabet were inscribed on the edge of each wheel in a random order. Turning these wheels, words could be scrambled and unscrambled. Although Jefferson apparently abandoned use of the wheel after 1802, it was "re-invented" twice: first by a French government official around 1890, and then just prior to World War I by an officer in the United States Army. Designated as M-94, the latter version was used by the Army and other military services from 1922 to the beginning of World War II.

Monticello has a really cool program that lets you work with a virtual wheel cipher. I went and put in a code and now you can break it!
My code:
Key = Thomas Jefferson

See what I wrote (nothing special, I promise you, but the breaking is the fun!) and report back!

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