September 12th, 2006

fuzzy sweatpants

Hardest. Puzzle. Ever.

At some point when I was around 9 or so, I picked up this crazy jigsaw puzzle at a yard sale. The box advertised that whoever solved it would win $100,000. Apparently the assembled puzzle depicted just a bunch of comma-separated numbers (white on a silver background, perhaps). Whoever could decipher that would presumably win the prize.

I'm not sure if I ever put the jigsaw puzzle together. I think I did. But I certainly never made any headway on the number puzzle.

A bit of googling implies that the puzzle was called "The $100000 Decipher Puzzle" or "Decipher the $100000 Puzzle" or something like that. And it was successfully solved in 1985 or thereabouts, so I missed my chance anyway. And apparently some people just missed the deadline, and then wrote a paper about it.

But I still want to know how they did it! Or, for that matter, anything else about this puzzle. Can anyone google better than I? Or does anyone have access to some sort of free journal search tools that would enable them to get this whole article? It's in Cryptologia, Volume XIV Number 3 (July 1990). (I'm looking at you, dagoski.)