The American Cryptogram Association (ACA) was organized originally to encompass the many phases of paper-and-pencil puzzle solving. It developed rapidly to include all forms of cryptography, and in recent years the home computer has begun to augment or replace the pencil and paper.
The ACA was founded on September 1st, 1929 in Biloxi, Mississippi, and initially dealt with "mono-alphabetic substitution ciphers", termed "The Aristocrat of Puzzles", and known since as the "Aristo". The early newsletter became The Cryptogram, currently running 24 pages per issue, six times a year, and with a circulation of more than 1,000. Members are from all walks of life, and in most countries of the world. Some members use noms-de-plume as a means of bringing equality (or at least anonymity) to their cryptography. An annual convention gives members a chance to meet face-to-face.
In 1933 the name Helen Fouche Gaines ("PICCOLA") appears for the first time in The Cryptogram ("Cm"); with a wide interest in all kinds of ciphers, her contributions led to the opening of the "Cipher Exchange" in the Cm. The following year a foreign-language department opened up, named "Xenocrypts". In 1936, Gaines and George Lamb proposed that a textbook should be published by the ACA. With help from many other members, Elementary Cryptanalysis appeared in 1939, and has remained a standard text ever since. "Elcy" was the first book of its kind in English.
In 1982 a regular "Computer Column" was started. In deference to those who do not possess computers, fully developed programs are not published in this column, but only hints and suggestions for enciphering and deciphering. It should be noted that unlike the data encryption techniques used for professional purposes, any of the ciphers in the Cm can in theory be solved. The challenge is to do so simply and economically. A completely automatic solution may not be possible, but the computer can be used as a powerful tool to assist the human mind.
The ACA is a non-profit organisation with no limits on membership, devoted to the dissemination of cryptographic knowledge. Officers receive no reward for service other than the joy of promoting cryptography.
Specialised bibliographies are available for those who are new to the hobby. The ACA issues a Directory of Members and an introductory pamphlet The ACA and You to all new members. The latter contains a useful summary of each of the 55 or so ciphers regularly used in The Cryptogram, with hints on their solution. The Cm itself contains in each issue a selection of ciphers for solution, graded for difficulty, and also the solutions to the problems in past issues. A Computer Supplement is published for the benefit of computerists.
The Computer Supplement was a printed quarterly publication
focused on the use of computers as aids to solving cryptograms and
It was an adjunct to the
American Cryptogram Association's
flagship magazine The Cryptogram.
Each issue of the Computer Supplement had both a printed issue and an archive of related software programs and data files.
The following issues are available in PDF format:
You can find the programs and data files associated with the Computer Supplement by clicking here.
During the publication run of the Computer Supplement,
subscribers were provided with the following list of references.
Updated 2 Sep 89
Textbooks Which Include BASIC Programs:
Note: "CS" refers to ACA Computer Supplement.
Recent Articles Containing Ciphering/Deciphering Programs
Anderson, John M, DATA SECURITY FOR YOUR PERSONAL COMPUTER, Oncomputing, Winter '80, pp63-66. (Transposition/substitution with 2 keywords).
Beidler, John. ON SOLVING ALPHAMETRICS, Creative Computing, November/December 1978, pp 110-113. (Additive cryptarithm solving, FORTRAN programs, 6 refs).
Block, David, BREAKING THE CODE, Creative Computing, March 1982, pp172-176. (Transposition and Vigenere pgms, incl sol of ref Noah).
Block, David, CNHY VF QRNQ, Microcomputing, May 1984, pp86-91. (Polyalphabetic solutions, incl sol of ref Prisco).
Demberger, James T, I HAVE A SECRET, 80 Micro, Oct 1982, pp296-302. (Vernam pgm.).
Frey, Peter, MACHINE PROBLEM SOLVING PT II - Directed search using cryptarithmetic, Byte, Oct 1980, pp266-272. (Additive Cryptarithmetic BASIC program).
Hines, T et al, CIPHER VIA COMPUTER - THE ONE-TIME PAD, Byte, Sept 1983 p403. (Random cipher).
Keefer, Bob, ANAGRAM SOLVING IN PASCAL, Byte, July 1986.
Lauer, Rudolph, WAILS FROM THE CRYPT, (Letter to Editor re ref Noah). Creative Computing, July 1981, p12. (Solution for ref Noah).
Morgan, James P, CODE CRACKER, 80 Microcomputing, Aug 1980, pp110-115. (Random Caesars).
Noah, C.W, PROTECT THOSE DATA FILES, Creative Computing, March 1981, pp184-186. (Security and XOR substitutions. See refs Block and Lauer).
Prisco, R.F, THE BAZERIES CYLINDER - a Cryptographic Challenge, Byte, June 1983, pp353-360. (Bazeries program; see ref Block)
Ritchie, G., THE SECRET CODE MACHINE, Creative Computing, May 1983, pp166- 174. (Playfair).
Sclawy, Alan, CP/M ENCRYPTION PRESCRIPTION, Microcomputing, Nov 1980, pp42- 46. (Vernam with 3 keywords).
Wheeler D.D and Peeri E, BASIC CRYPTOGRAPHY: SBOEPN DJQIFST, Creative Computing, May 1983, pp178-184. (Random ciphers for Atari, PC, TRS80 and Apple).
The following articles discuss ciphers not normally within the range of pencil-and-paper solution:
Block, David, THE TRAPDOOR ALGORITHM, Creative Computing, May 1983, pp189- 195. (A public key method. BASIC programs, no refs).
Burton, C.E, RSA: A PUBLIC KEY CRYPTOGRAPHY SYSTEM, PARTS 1 AND 2, Dr. Dobb's Journal, March and April 1984.
Burton, C.E., AN ENHANCED ADFGVK CIPHER SYSTEM, Dr Dobb's Journal, February 1985, pp 48-70. (An alternative to public key encryption, programs in C language, 4 refs).
de Laubenfels, J, FACTORING WITH S1, Byte, June 1985, p26. (Solution for ref Smith).
Kirchavel, G.D, SUPERHYPER, Byte, July 1985. (Solution for ref Smith).
Kluepfel, Charles, IMPLEMENTING CRYPTOGRAPHIC ALGORITHMS ON MICROCOMPUTERS, Byte, October 1984, p126. (Public key with up to 200-digit keys using muMATH/muSIMP programs, 4 refs).
Leining, Richard B, FACTORING WITH HYPER, Byte, March 1985, pp396-402. (Solution for ref Smith).
Reardon, George, SECRET CIPHERS, 80 Micro, March 1983, pp208-216. (Simple public key system; TRS80 models 1-2-3-4).
Smith, John, PUBLIC KEY CRYPTOGRAPHY, Byte, Jan 1983, pp198-218. (Prime number and encryption pgms. 5 refs). (See refs de Laubensfels, Kirchavel and Leining).
(Note: Many of the above programs have been transcribed onto disks in various formats. Contact the ACA for what is available).
Dewdney, A.K, COMPUTER RECREATIONS (column), Scientific American, Oct 1988 p144; Nov 1988 p142; Feb 1989 p111 ("On Making And Breaking Codes"); June 1989 (text generation update).
Gass, Fred, SOLVING A JULES VERNE CRYPTOGRAM, Mathematics Magazine, Feb 1986. 9p 15 refs. (Gronsfeld solution).
Hawker,P, ELECTRONIC CRYPTOGRAPHY, Wireless World, Sept 1980, pp44-49. (Security. 6 refs.).
Hodgart,M.S, A REVOLUTION IN CRYPTOGRAPHY - PRIVACY & AUTHENTICATION, Communications Engineering, Nov-Dec 1979, pp32-39. (Introductory/descriptive. 5 refs).
MacKinnon,N.R.F, THE DEVELOPMENT OF SPEECH ENCIPHERMENT, Radio and Electronic Engineer, Vol 50 No 4, April 1980, pp147-155. (Scramblers. 16 refs).
Raab, Frederick, A CIPHERING TECHNIQUE, Creative Computing, April 1981, pp 116-124. (Product ciphers, shift register generators. 3 refs).
Stover, John, ORDERING VIA RECURSIVE ROUTINES, 80 Micro, June 1983, p300. (BASIC permuting program).
Wasserman, Kenneth, POPPING AND PUSHING PERMUTATIONS IN BASIC, Microcomputing, December 1981, pp50-51. (A BASIC permuting/anagramming program).
Hayes, Brian, COMPUTER RECREATIONS (column), Scientific American, Nov 1983 p18.
Kenner, H and O'Rourke, J, A TRAVESTY GENERATOR FOR MICROS, Byte, Nov 1984, p129. (Pascal pgms, 4 refs).
Wayner, Peter, BUILD A TRAVESTY TREE, Byte, Sept 1985, p183. (BASIC pgms).
Tankard, Jim, THE LITERARY DETECTIVE, Byte, Feb 1986, p231. (Apple pgms, 6 refs).
(The last four refs deal with computer generated text - the Monkey problem. Updated programs and many other text analysis programs are available as part of the 17-disk package "The Electronic Holmes Companion" $49.95 from Psylogic Systems, PO BOX 315 , Tolland, CT 06084).
Magazines carrying regular computer/cipher articles:
"Cryptologia", Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, Terre Haute, Indiana 47803. Publ quarterly, $28.00 p.a. ($36.00 outside USA). (Advanced).
"The Cryptogram", American Cryptogram Association, 18789 West Hickory St, MUNDELEIN, IL 60060, USA. Publ bi-monthly, $15.00 p.a. (Intermediate).
"The ACA Computer Supplement" publ 3 times a year, $7.50 p.a, contains computer oriented articles, software reviews, etc. Editor, 5052 Chestnut Ave, Pierrefonds, Quebec, Canada H8Z 2A8.
"Cryptosystems" journal + floppy disk for IBMs and clones. $35 p.a from Editor, 9755 Oatley Lane, BURKE, VA 22015, USA. (Advanced, non-ACA ciphers).
The Aegean Park Press, PO Box 2837, Laguna Hills, California 92654 publishes numerous books on cryptography. New titles are continually being added, amongst which may be found computer material.
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Last updated August 15, 2011