It took eight years after artist Jim Sanborn unveiled his cryptographic sculpture at the CIA’s headquarters for someone to succeed at cracking Kryptos’s enigmatic messages.
In 1998, CIA analyst David Stein cracked three of the sculpture’s four coded messages after spending 400 hours diddling over the problem with paper and pencil during many lunch breaks.
Though many people, on and off the CIA campus in Langley, Virginia, had tried to break the 865-character coded puzzle, Stein, a member of the agency’s Directorate of Intelligence, was the first to succeed.
Only his CIA colleagues knew about his achievement at the time, however, because he wasn’t allowed to go public with the news. A year later, California computer scientist Jim Gillogly stole the spotlight when he announced that he’d cracked the same three messages, only he used a Pentium II to do it.
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