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18th Century Hacking [scienceagogo]

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> 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
>    expensive.
>     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.

[text deleted]

>     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.

[text deleted]

       To know what is right and not to do it is the worst cowardice.


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