Letter from the Programmer (28 April 1992)

Letter from the programmer
Item #D31. Fax of letter from the programmer to the publisher with an update on the program for scrolling William Gibson’s poem in Agrippa.

Facsimile Image

Letter from the Programmer (7 May 1992)


Letter from the programmer Item #D32. Fax from Agrippa‘s programmer to its publisher about the “fuss” resulting from confusion that the encryption on the work’s diskette might be a “virus.”Facsimile Image

For the New York Times article on encryption legislation referred to by the programmer (and faxed with his letter), see article. For the “original press release” referred to, see Agrippa press release/prospectus.

Letter from John Perry Barlow to Kevin Begos (11 June 1992)

Letter from John Perry Barlow
Item #D45. Letter from the John Perry Barlow to Kevin Begos, Jr., publisher of Agrippa.Facsimile Image

After meeting Kevin Begos at an event in New York City and hearing about Agrippa, Barlow—who had co-founded the Electronic Frontier Foundation in 1990—enlisted John Gilmore (of Sun Microsystems, Inc.) to consult by phone with the programmer of Agrippa‘s code; he also arranged for Begos to attend the Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility’s 2nd annual conference on Cryptography and Privacy, held in Washington, D.C., on 1 June 1992 (see Item #D24). Barlow and the EFF were concerned about efforts in Congress at the time to legislate encryption, and in this letter offers to be the lightning rod for “any legal fire generated” by Agrippa‘s code. (See also the 7 May 1992 letter from Agrippa’s programmer referring to Barlow’s concerns about the “fuss being made over the encryption.”) The name of the programmer, with whom Barlow mentions having a “long chat,” is here blacked out because of his wish to be anonymous. (Source for information in this note: personal communication from Kevin Begos to The Agrippa Files editors, 8 Dec. 2005.)

Cryptography Conference Attended by Kevin Begos (1 June 1992)

Conference schedule
Item #D24. Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility’s 2nd annual conference on Cryptography and Privacy, 1 June 1992.

Facsmile Image

Transcription of Conference Schedule

The June 1, 1992, conference in Washington, D.C., was attended by Kevin Begos (publisher of Agrippa).

Machine Code (7 July 1992)

Machine code excerpt
Item #D10. Unidentified scrap of machine code for the programs on the Agrippa diskette.

Facsimile Image

Last Letter from the Programmer (9 August 1992)

Last letter from the programmer
Item #D29. August 12, 1992, letter from the programmer regarding the Agrippa disk and its code.

Facsmile Image


Code for Scrolling Gibson’s Poem in Agrippa (9 August 1992)

Agrippa code
Item #D5. Part of the code used to generate the scrolling text of William Gibson’s poem in Agrippa.

Facsimile Images

See also the encryption code used to make the poem seem to “disappear” after it had run once.

Letter from Kevin Begos to William Gibson (1992)

Letter from Kevin Begos to William GibsonItem #D9. Letter of 1992 (exact date unknown) from publisher Kevin Begos, Jr., to William Gibson regarding Agrippa.

Facsmile Image

For the “Kodak book” referred to, see 1920 Kodak catalog advertising “The Agrippa Album.” The plan for using the special vintage Whatman papers was never implemented.

Mathematical Foundation for Agrippa‘s Encryption Code (1938)

Excerpt from math book Item #D4. Mathematical basis of the encryption used to make the pre-encrypted copy of Gibson’s poem on Agrippa’s disk. (This is the work referred to by the programmer in the last paragraph of his letter of 28 March 1992).
Facsimile Images
Bibliographical Information

See also the programmer’s letter on the encryption code.

‘Templar’s’ Introduction to the First Online Copy of Gibson’s ‘Agrippa’ Poem (December 10, 1992)

Item #D44. Introduction by “Templar” to the First Online Copy of William Gibson’s “Agrippa” poem

This introduction, which claims that the code of the Agrippa diskette was “hacked & cracked,” announced the first version of Gibson’s poem posted online (to the MindVox BBS) on Dec. 10, 1992. The transcript here is from a now defunct Web page version of the MindVox posting available until early 2005 at http://riverbbs.net/pub4/ebook/Agripp.Txt (currently available only in the Google cache here) For the way the poem leaked online and different views about whether it was ever actually hacked, see Matthew G. Kirschenbaum’s discussion and follow-up discussion. See also the bootleg video recorded at the Dec. 9, 1992, “transmission” event at the Americas Society in New York City, as well as the 1993 experimental video Re:Agrippa based on the bootleg footage. (One theory was that transcribing from this footage may be the low-tech way the poem was hacked. Subsequent evidence, including the discovery of the original bootleg video recorded Dec. 9, 1992, at the Americas Society and correspondence with Templar’s partner video maker, “Rosehammer,” confirms this theory.)