Crack the crypto in Agrippa, win every William Gibson book ever published


17 Responses to “Crack the crypto in Agrippa, win every William Gibson book ever published”

  1. Jaye Sunsurn says:

    I thought the original encryption was routed around… ie someone found a way to port the output to a file on its first run (the only time you could see it before the decryption method wiped itself making a re-read somewhat difficult) therefore there was always a cleartext avoiding the need to crack the encryption.  Though cracking it is still cool.

  2. Bonobo says:

    Anyone who saw “Hackers” knows that the password for The Gibson is “GOD”

  3. You said I could win every book he ever published. Then in the fine print you say I could win a copy of every book he ever published. Hmmm. That still comes out to thousands and thousands of books, which is a pretty good deal, but a lot of them will be virtually identical. I dunno. Is it worth it?

  4. Snertly says:

    What? No one kept a copy of Copy2PC?

  5. Deidzoeb says:

    I can’t even decrypt (..f. all DRM, ever)

  6. Hamish Grant says:

    This was mentioned in a /. post back in 2008.

    The text of the decrypted poem is here – in a differential file showing the version posted on Gibson’s site versus the version on the disk.

    here’s the extracted text formatted more nicely.

  7. Quinn DuPont says:

    For anyone wondering, the cleartext of the poem is indeed known (dumped from a debugger), but the encryption itself has never been broken or explored. Given that the cleartext is known, hopefully this will make cryptanalysis easier!

  8. The cleartext of the poem was circulating on the net within a day (literally) of the work’s public debut in December, 1992 (as detailed on the Agrippa Files site).  That’s not the point of Quinn’s challenge though, which is instead about recovering its alleged crpytographic functions–one more piece of the mechanism.

  9. jon_anon says:

    Corey, you might make this a bit clearer: the crypto was never cracked, as such. Someone found a way to get the cleartext off the floppy without actually cracking the cryptographic system.

  10. Hamish Grant says:

    If the text was on the disk already in a format that was accessible, was the encryption ever actually employed and was decryption ever even necessary?

    • Quinn DuPont says:

      We don’t know! Hopefully we’ll discover how the encryption functions (if it does at all–there are some odd hints suggesting otherwise)

    • SamSam says:

      The poem itself is the encypted text. In theory. The challenge is to decrypt the poem to something else, not to decrypt some code into the poem.

  11. elix says:

    Hm… after the poem is read (in emulation, at least), it inserts 3,000 base pairs into the file. I wonder if those actually code to any actual genes, or if it’s just a particular method of salting the binary with noise.

    Also, in case people haven’t seen, mouseover the “Cracking the Agrippa Code” banner image on the linked site from the post.

  12. petr says:

    I love LISP, lots of irritating silly parentheses.

  13. I’m going to hazard a guess that most people who will participate in this likely already own (or have at least read) all of Gibson’s books.

  14. Fashpo says:

    Wow, can’t wait to win all of those translated Gibson novels, a Gollancz first edition of Neuromancer and the very rare Ikea Neuromancer edition:

  15. Jeremy Mesiano-Crookston says:

    I solved it! The Agrippa code is:

    “Break lines of ordinary prose into fragments with a line break to make poetry”

    Watch! I’ll prove it by decoding Agrippa:

    I hesitated
    before untying the bow
    that bound this book together.

    Now I apply my patented method:

    I hesitated before untying the bow that bound this book together. 


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