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History of steganography and cryptography

Hypnerotomachia poliphili, Anonymous, 1499
The Hypnerotomachia Poliphili (translated as ‘the strife of love in a dream’) is a very puzzling and enigmatic book. Published by Aldus Manutius in 1499, it contains a vast knowledge of architecture and landscape and garden design, but also engineering, painting and sculpture. It also contains one of the most famous authorship steganogram: the first letter of the 38 chapters spelled out ‘Poliam frater Franciscus Columna peramavit’ (‘Brother Francesco Colonna passionately loves Polia’). Colonna was a monk, still alive when the book was published...
Steganographia, Trithemius (1462-1516), 1499
This is Trithemius’ most notorious work. It includes a sophisticated system of steganography, as well as angel magic. It also contains a synthesis of the science of knowledge, the art of memory, magic, an accelerated language learning system, and a method of sending messages without symbols or messenger.
Steganographica, Gaspari Schotti, 1665
Here are some photos of one of the oldest book on steganography and cryptography. Four hundred pages are dedicated to the subject. Most of the ideas presented in this book had been already discussed in Steganographia (Trithemius, 1499) and Polygraphiæ (Trithemius, 1516). Many thanks to the Whipple Library in Cambridge for lending this book.
Cryptology in the 15th and 16th century, T Leary, Cryptologia v. XX no. 3 (July 96) pp 223–242
This article discusses a number of cryptographic and steganographic systems used in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Authors of books such as histories often concealed their names in case their work offended powerful factions; while a treatise on the subject was written by Bishop John Wilkins, later the Master of Trinity College, Cambridge. He devised a number of schemes ranging from coding messages in music and string knots to invisible inks, described the principles of cryptanalysis by letter frequencies, and argued against those who opposed publication in the field: ‘it will not follow that everything must be suppressed which may be abused’
The Pigeon Post into Paris 1870-1871, J.D. Hayhurst O.B.E.
This paper describes how pigeons and microphotography have been used extensively while Paris was besieged during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871.
Cryptographie militaire, Auguste Kerckhoffs, 1883
Although this paper is mostly about cryptography, it enunciates some principles that are worth keeping in mind when designing a new steganographic system.
A mathematical theory of communication systems, Claude E. Shannon
Les Filigranes, Charles-Moïse Briquet, Geneva, 1907
Historical dictionary of watermarks.
About cyphers, Francis Bacon and Shakespeare, Paul Dupuy J.
‘The knowledge of Cyphering, hath drawne on with it a knowledge relative unto it, which is the knowledge of Discyphering, or of Discreting Cyphers, though a man were utterly ignorant of the Alphabet of the Cypher, and the Capitulations of secrecy past between the Parties. Certainly it is an Art which requires great paines and a good witt and is (as the other was) consecrate to the Counsels of Princes: yet notwithstanding by diligent prevision it may be made unprofitable, though, as things are, it be of great use.’
Early Cryptology, Paul Dupuy, Jr.
In order to understand better, the Shakespeare/Bacon problem, the author review the important discovery of the history of cryptography among which, many appear to be steganographic systems.
So who wrote the work? you’ll find more in The Second Cryptographic Shakespeare, Penn Leary
Questioning the authorship of Shakespeare is very unpopular. Most of what is ‘known’ about Shakespeare was invented by Sir Sidney Lee [by Edward D. Johnson, from Baconiana, Dec. 1958] and his many ‘we may assume,’ ‘undoubtedly’ phrases. These are extracts from The second cryptographic Shakespeare: a monograph wherein the poems and plays attributed to William Shakespeare are proven to contain the enciphered name of the concealed author, Francis Bacon, Penn Leary, Omaha, Nebr., U.S.A. : Westchester House, 1990. Second edition. ISBN 0961791713.
The Myth of the Skytale, T Kelly, Cryptologia v. XXII no. 3, July 1998, pp 244–260.
The author argues that the Greek word skytale did not originally denote an encryption device, but a piece of material on which a plaintext message was written, and which used a stick only for ease of transport.
Solved: the Ciphers in Book III of Trithemius’ Steganographia, J Reeds, Cryptologia v XXII no 4, October 1998, pp 291–318.
The author shows that many of the number tables associated with magic spells in the third book of the Steganographia can be deciphered by reducing them modulo 25 and applying them to a reversed alphabet. Some previous writers had though that only the first two volumes were about cryptology.