Back when I was visiting with Brian Charlson, the Director of Technology at The Carroll Center for the Blind in Newton, Massachusetts, Brian and others at that meeting asked for a cryptogram game designed for visually impaired people. Working closely with Judy Dixon and Doug Wakefield, I am happy to announce that an audio-only cryptogram game that was just approved by Apple, and in available via iTunes.
Politicians and military strategists have used simple-substitution ciphers to encode their secret documents for thousands of years – even back to the time of Julius Caesar! The process is simple: change each letter in your document to another letter in the alphabet, so that your new document is completely illegible. Your new, encoded document might look a little something like this:
It looks like a whole lot of nonsense, right? Well, to many people, for many hundreds of years, it was nonsense – and the simple substitution cipher worked just fine to keep secret documents just that: secret. But eventually people started to realize these ciphers could be broken quite easily, using nothing but simple pattern recognition, frequency analysis and a general knowledge of grammar and vocabulary. Soon enough, simple-substitution ciphers were no longer enough to keep encoded documents safe from prying eyes, and those who wanted to keep their secrets secret moved on to more complex encryption methods.
While no one uses cryptograms (a type of simple-substitution cipher) today to encode their secret documents, they have survived to become a wildly popular puzzle, available in thousands of books and newspapers… and now – in Blindfold Cryptogram.
Blindfold Cryptogram is free and comes with five encrypted quotes from famous people including Mark Twain, Maya Angelo, Emo Phillips, Thomas Jefferson and Nelson Mandela. It’s designed for rapid audio play, and doesn’t require that you see the screen. It supports several different ways of entering your solution, and gives hints and includes a table of the frequency of letters.
The frequency of letters is often used to solve a cryptogram; the most common letters are E, T, A, O, I and N and the least common are K, X, J, Q and Z. So if the encrypted quote has many letters “P”, it probably means that the letter “P” should be decrypted into one of the letters E, T, A, O, I or N.
After you’ve solved the first five quotes, you can purchase an in-app upgrade for 40 more quotes from notable people, such as Ronald Reagon, Budda, Shakespeare and Mae West. As Blindfold Cryptogram becomes popular and people want more cryptogram puzzles, we’ll create more puzzle sets.