The Beale. Cypher Association (BCA) includes big name computer
experts like Dr. Carl I Hammer, director of computer sciences at Sperry Univac;
Per A. Holst, senior research manager at the Foxboro Company, an industrial
process control company in Massachusetts.
Frances Beale, a distant
relative, is avid member of Beale Cypher Asso.
And top cryptanalysts from the CIA and
the National Security Agency, such as Carl Nelson jr., now retired, who was the
technological wizard behind the super-secret Berlin tunnel dug: to intercept
The 100 members share information, but
with more than 20 million dollars I (at today's prices) at stake, some are
reluctant to exchange vital data.
After a recent newspaper article, some
10,000 letters flooded the office of BCA Executive Director Per Holst, most of
them requesting; information rather than volunteering it. ; Suspicion, Holst
fears, undermines the massive effort to solve Thomas Beale's puzzler.
Still, he argues, it is only a matter: of time before the
ciphers will be broken! and the treasure, if it exists, found.
Breaking the Beale ciphers, however, is proving
easier said than done. Underlying cryptanalysis are two
First, in all languages, some letters are used more often than
others. In English, for example, the most frequently used
letter is E followed by T,
Second, the proportion in which the letters occur remains
Take 1,000 letters from a cookbook, a military manual or a
love letter and the frequency of certain letters is the same. With an enciphered
message, the cryptanalyst utilizes known frequency combinations to tease out the
original message. If, for example, there is a high proportion of the letter H,
he makes the assumption that it is an E substitute.
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