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Hand Ciphers
Simple manual methods for encryption

One of the most basic methods for exchanging encrypted messages is a substitution cipher. In its simplest form it uses a shifted alphabet. This is often called a Caesar Cipher, as it was used by Gaius Julius Caesar for communication with his generals. It is also known as Strip Cipher, as some implementations use sliding alphabets printed on strips (made of paper, plastic or wood).

Subsitution tables, matrix ciphers and some versions of the One-Time Pad (OTP) can also be seen as manual cipher methods. Over the years, a wide variety of hand methods have been used, with varying degrees of success. Some are really sophisticated, but most are relatively simple and can be broken easily with pencil-and-paper methods or computers. Below are some examples.

Manual cipher systems on this website
Ceasar Cipher The blank Aristo Slide Ruler The Confederate Cipher Disc, used during the American Civil War, based on the Vigenère Cipher. Slidex manual cipher system with spare cards Jefferson disk (or: Jefferson Wheel Cipher) Giddings Field Message-Book with US Army Cipher Disk, used during the Spanish-American War in 1898. Code books Discret, an early typewriter with cipher capabilities
The unbreakable One-Time Pad (OTP)
The Confederate Cipher Disk (a variant of the Vigenèr Cipher) used during the American Civil War Reverse Caesar Cipher Disc, made by Linge in Germany Manual cipher device with sliding alphabets (1912) Georges Lugagne 'Le Sphinx' (1930) Caesar Wheel training disk Parolen- und Gesprächstabelle (message translation table)
Front Chiffiergerät - the Swiss version of the American M-94
Reverse Caesar slide rule (Cäsar Chiffrierschieber) k.u.k. Chiffrierscheibe (Austria) Reihenschieber (RS)
Further information
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© Crypto Museum. Last changed: Saturday, 24 February 2018 - 10:53 CET.
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