ABSTRACT

In the early days of the telegraph, telegrams were charged by the word so businesses developed codebooks that could express something which would take many words to say (“the Captain is insane”) with a single code word (“enbet”, a real example). Of course, this had the added advantage that the meaning of communications was obscured but that was not their primary purpose. Nevertheless, because telegraph operators see the content of everything they transmit, there were circumstances where the use of a code was relevant. For reasons of security, the code phrase to indicate the death of Queen Elizabeth II is allegedly “London Bridge is down”.