Cracking the 'Kryptos' code

Rick Moran
Attention all Junior G-Man codebreakers out there. The artist who created the "Kryptos" sculpture that has bedeviled codebreakers world wide since it was unveiled in the CIA courtyard at Langely 20 years ago is getting tired of the intrusions in his life as a result of the inability of the public to crack the final message hidden on the 4th panel.

He has given the New York Times a clue:

The code breakers have had some success. Three of the puzzles, 768 characters long, were solved by 1999, revealing passages - one lyrical, one obscure and one taken from history. But the fourth message of "Kryptos" - the name, in Greek, means "hidden" - has resisted the best efforts of brains and computers.And Jim Sanborn, the sculptor who created "Kryptos" and its puzzles, is getting a bit frustrated by the wait. "I assumed the code would be cracked in a fairly short time," he said, adding that the intrusions on his life from people who think they have solved his fourth puzzle are more than he expected.

So now, after 20 years, Mr. Sanborn is nudging the process along. He has provided The New York Times with the answers to six letters in the sculpture's final passage. The characters that are the 64th through 69th in the final series on the sculpture read NYPVTT. When deciphered, they read BERLIN.

But there are many steps to cracking the code, and the other 91 characters and their proper order are yet to be determined.

There are numerous sites where you can read all about Kryptos and the process of solving the riddle. This NOVA show from 2007 is very entertaining and gives some excellent background on how some people go about the task of solving the riddles.

So have at it my friends. One of the mysteries of the ages will probably be solved shortly.



Attention all Junior G-Man codebreakers out there. The artist who created the "Kryptos" sculpture that has bedeviled codebreakers world wide since it was unveiled in the CIA courtyard at Langely 20 years ago is getting tired of the intrusions in his life as a result of the inability of the public to crack the final message hidden on the 4th panel.

He has given the New York Times a clue:

The code breakers have had some success. Three of the puzzles, 768 characters long, were solved by 1999, revealing passages - one lyrical, one obscure and one taken from history. But the fourth message of "Kryptos" - the name, in Greek, means "hidden" - has resisted the best efforts of brains and computers.

And Jim Sanborn, the sculptor who created "Kryptos" and its puzzles, is getting a bit frustrated by the wait. "I assumed the code would be cracked in a fairly short time," he said, adding that the intrusions on his life from people who think they have solved his fourth puzzle are more than he expected.

So now, after 20 years, Mr. Sanborn is nudging the process along. He has provided The New York Times with the answers to six letters in the sculpture's final passage. The characters that are the 64th through 69th in the final series on the sculpture read NYPVTT. When deciphered, they read BERLIN.

But there are many steps to cracking the code, and the other 91 characters and their proper order are yet to be determined.

There are numerous sites where you can read all about Kryptos and the process of solving the riddle. This NOVA show from 2007 is very entertaining and gives some excellent background on how some people go about the task of solving the riddles.

So have at it my friends. One of the mysteries of the ages will probably be solved shortly.