Cryptologic Bytes

Phaistos Disc - Cryptologic Bytes Highlights
Phaistos Disc


This section of our Web site features a collection of cryptologic-related items of interest to those curious about the past, present, and also the future of cryptology. The entries are obtained from various sources, including Web site visitors, so if you have something of interest, please share it with us at This Highlights page serves as an introduction, but remember to visit the Recent Cryptologic Bytes and Cryptologic Bytes Archives for more items.


Famous Unsolved Codes & Ciphers

Elonka Dunin's Codes & Ciphers Web site  provides an unofficial list of well-known unsolved codes and ciphers, such as the Beale Ciphers, Phaistos Disc (pictured above), and more. A couple of the better-known unsolved ancient historical scripts are also thrown in, since they tend to come up during any discussion of unsolved codes. There has also been an attempt to sort this list by "fame," as defined by a loose formula involving the number of times that a particular cipher has been written about, and/or how many hits it pulls up on a moderately-sorted Web search.

Breakthrough in Voynich Manuscript?

The Voynich Manuscript - Cryptologic Bytes Highlights
The Voynich Manuscript

From an 18 February 2014 article by Nic Rigby for the BBC News ~ In Feb 2014, a potential breakthrough was made in attempts to decipher the Voynich manuscript, a mysterious 600-year-old manuscript written in an unknown language.

The Voynich Manuscript, carbon-dated to the 1400s, was rediscovered in 1912, but has defied codebreakers since. Bedfordshire (UK) University's Stephen Bax says he has deciphered 10 words, which could lead to more discoveries. The manuscript, which some think is a hoax, is full of illustrations of plants and stars, as well as text. It has been latched onto by supporters of a whole range of strange theories including some linking it to Leonardo da Vinci or even aliens. Read the full article HERE.  

Dorabella Cipher Solution by Tim Roberts

Dorabella Cipher Solution - Cryptologic Bytes Highlights
Dorabella Cipher

Tim Roberts has offered a viable solution to the Dorabella Cipher, an encrypted message sent by the celebrated English composer Edward Elgar to a young lady companion in 1897.

Tim is on the Faculty of Arts, Business, Informatics and Education at CQ University Australia. The Dorabella Cipher is listed on Elonka Dunin's Web site which provides an unofficial list of well-known unsolved codes and ciphers. Tim's solution can be found by clicking on this link to a PDF document.

October 13, 2013 - Slightly revised solution submitted by Tim: "The only difference from the original version is a change in the last line of the key. The order of the symbols that Elgar used in this third line always slightly puzzled me. No longer. The slightly revised key, "Lady Penny, writing in code is a way to keep busy," removes this anomale."

Researchers Decode Copiale Cipher

Copiale Cipher - Cryptologic Bytes Highlights
Copiale Cipher

In October 2011, a team of researchers made headlines for decoding a secret society's 18th century manuscript called the Copiale Cipher. The Copiale Cypher - a mysterious cryptogram bound in gold and green brocade paper -- is a 250-year-old coded document that when decrypted uncovered the inner workings of an 18th-century secret society.

The team of researchers is also working to reveal the secret behind an even more mysterious undecrypted document, the Voynich Manuscript. Found in a chest of books outside Rome by a dealer in antique books, the Voynich Manuscript has remained one of history’s biggest mysteries. Its aging parchment is coated in alien characters and has for centuries mystified scientists. For updated news about the Voynich Manuscript, click HERE.

Chaocipher Clearing House

Chaocipher - Cryptologic Bytes Highlights

Moshe Rubin's Web site serves as an online clearing house of information about the Chaocipher. On the site he includes fact, fiction, and folklore about John Byrne's legendary invention from 1918. Unsolved for so many years, it finally took 57 years (from the publication of Byrne's "Silent Years" in 1953 until June 2010) for the cipher algorithm to be revealed.

Included here is link to a short chaocipher animation on YouTube, (pictured above) put together by Nick Pelling.

In Pelling's 3 July 2010 post about the Chaocipher on his site,, he describes the Chaocipher as follows: “The Chaocipher” is a devious cipher system invented in 1918 by John F. Byrne: allegedly, it was so complex that nobody could crack his challenge ciphertexts (even with the plaintext to refer to!), yet was so simple that its mechanism was claimed to comprise only two rotating disks small enough to fit in a cigar box, and could be operated by a ten-year-old (admittedly a diligent, determined and well-practised one) to encipher and decipher texts.

Nick Pelling's Cipher Mysteries Web Site

Nick Pelling's Cipher Mysteries Site - Cryptologic Bytes Highlights

Nick Pelling's Web site, Cipher Mysteries is devoted to real unsolved historical code/cipher mysteries, as well as to exploring how those objects get portrayed in books, films, TV, radio, music, opera, sculpture, design, metalworking, eBay scams, etc. Find the latest on unsolved codes and ciphers such as the Voynich Manuscript, the Kryptos sculpture at CIA, Bellaso's Ciphers, and many others. You can subscribe to receive daily alerts/updates.

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