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18th Century Hacking [scienceagogo]
> X-within-URL: http://www.scienceagogo.com/news/19980914030842data_trunc_sys.shtml
> Subject: 19980914030842data_trunc_sys.shtml
> Richard Taylor
> [email protected] Apple UK Old Post Bags: The Story of the
> Sending of a Letter in Ancient and Modern Times, brought to our
> attention by the Dead Media Project.
> In those days, "franking" was the name of the game, meaning the
> transmission of information by way of sophisticated encryptions on the
> outside of an envelope. The trick was to take advantage of the
> pre-Penny Black system of cash-on-delivery, where postmen demanded
> exorbitant fees from recipients. Outwitting the Post Office involved
> gleaning important information from, say, the way the address was
> written, then refusing the letter on the grounds that it was too
> The poet Coleridge tells the story of the most rudimentary sort of
> frank, witnessed at an inn in the north of England. A postman offered
> a letter to the barmaid and demanded a shilling. Sighing
> melodramatically, she gave back the letter, protesting that she was
> too poor to pay for it. Coleridge, ever the gentleman, insisted on
> forking out the shilling, only to be shown afterwards that the
> envelope was empty. The letter's message was in fact contained in a
> number of subtle hieroglyphics alongside the address.
> The Post Office cottoned on to such shenanigans, but proof of
> fraudulent activity was next to impossible. They did, however, crack a
> number of basic codes, and administered fines accordingly. Secret
> messages embedded within apparent instructions to the postman, such as
> "With speed" or "Postman, be you honest and true" were well known, as
> was the practice of highlighting certain words on a newspaper
> (newspapers were delivered free of charge) to convey a simple idea.
> Underlining the name of a Whig politician commonly meant "I am well",
> while doing the same thing with a Tory meant the opposite.
To know what is right and not to do it is the worst cowardice.
The Armadillo Group ,::////;::-. James Choate
Austin, Tx /:'///// ``::>/|/ [email protected]
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