The Cipher Challenge is a part of The Code Book, but the first copy of the book was bought without the slightest knowledge of the existence of a competition. As it happened, Fredrik was in London on September 11-18, 1999. During a rainy week in London, Fredrik walked along the bookstore windows that fronted the new book by Simon Singh, The Code Book. Having already read Fermat's Last Theorem by the same author, Fredrik decided to buy this new book as well.
Fredrik went back to Sweden and started reading the book. About half-way through the book, Fredrik flipped through the pages of the book and found a section called The Cipher Challenge. The first cipher looked interesting enough, and he solved it in about twenty minutes. The second was saved for later, not because it seemed difficult, but because the solution was not obvious to him using pen and paper.
On Saturday September 25, Fredrik brought the book to the local juggling practice and afterwards showed it to Staffan. Fredrik knew that Staffan was usually willing to accept a challenge. This time was no exception, and Staffan promptly wanted a book of his own and went off to find an open book store.
As soon as Staffan had bought his own copy, a Swedish translation, they set off for Staffan's work to make copies of the ciphers. The intention was to OCR all the stages so that we had them in electronic form.
Fredrik was going to a birthday party the same evening and had to leave Staffan there. As Fredrik was leaving the party after midnight, he called Staffan who announced that he had solved Stage 4.
He had also completed the OCR work and we now had all the stages in electronic format. Later experiences would show that this process had not been error free, as some parts of the ciphertexts later turned out to be incorrect. These errors never threatened the correct decryption, though.
We now felt that we were ready to make a serious attack on the ciphers.