The World’s First Telecoms Scam

Watch Tom Scott explain the world’s first telecoms scam, which worked by introducing errors into the partially encoded state messages sent by Napoleonic semaphore towers. Oh, and bribery.

If you find that interesting, you might also like Dr. David Brailsford’s discussion of entropy in compression.

Replica of a Claude Chappe semaphore tower in Nalbach, Germany

Illustration of an analog numeric typewriter, superimposed on a paper chart of printed numbers.

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Know Your Constellations: Eurion

Street scene with light-skinned person at right holding up a Euro bill. To the left appear a series of yellow circles with the text EURion constellation
Tom Scott explains why you can’t photocopy many currencies

This is the first Tom Scott video I remember watching. This is useful in the office, too: if you’ve ever had to copy or scan a check and kept coming up with a black page instead, you’ve come up against the Eurion. My solution? Cover the abejitas (little bees)as we used to call them at one of my clients, with bits of Post-It Note, and copy away.


Illustration of an analog numeric typewriter, superimposed on a paper chart of printed numbers.

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