Belgian programmer cracks code that opens MIT time capsule

CAMBRIDGE, MASS. (WHDH) - A Belgian programmer cracked the code that opened a time capsule at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“I was super happy,” said Bernard Farbot, who solved the MIT cryptopuzzle. “I did a silly dance in front of my family before finding the code.”

The professor who sealed the time capsule with the cryptopuzzle in 1999 thought it would take 35 years to solve.

But with a more advanced computer, it took Farbot nearly three-and-a-half years to find the answer, which is 600 digits long and required 80 trillion computations.

“By 2014, I realized computers were much more peripheral,” Farbot said. “I did a quick computation in my head. I tried. I saw it worked, and I decided to just go for it.”

The solution leads to the unsealing of the time capsule, which contained MIT computing artifacts and material relating to the invention of the Internet, the ethernet, and the digital spreadsheet.

Bob Frankston was the programmer behind what would later become known as Excel, and he says Farbot’s quick work shows how much times have changed since he developed the software 40 years ago.

“It’s a reminder of how much we have progressed with computational understanding to be able to solve it ahead of schedule,” he said.

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