Monday, January 30, 2012

Passwords Old and Ancient

The password to get into Abulafia had to be seven letters or fewer. Letters or numbers. How many groups of seven could be made from all the letters of the alphabet, including the possibility of repetition, since there was no reason the word couldn’t be ‘cadabra’? I knew the formula. The number was six billion and something. —Umberto Eco, Foucault’s Pendulum (1988)

We've previously discussed how the original password was open sesame (better translated as "simsim"), and how passwords are like magic words in that they are the keys for unlocking barriers, dissolving obstacles, revealing something beyond. Passwords are the coveted guarded secrets that grant admittance into inner chambers and secret circles. The folks at Wired sought to track down the first computer password. (Thanks, Gordon!)

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