A Belgian solves a 20-year-old mathematical puzzle

Bernard Fabrot, a self-employed computer scientist who taught himself programming, has solved a cryptographic puzzle created in 1999.

Ron Rivest, one of the leading coding specialists at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), created the code and estimated that it would take 35 years to solve the puzzle.

Belgian Bernard Fabrot learnt of the enigma by chance in 2015 while consulting an internet forum. To solve the puzzle, he had to start from the number that had to be squared millions of times. It was a sequential calculation, i.e. the next calculation depended on the previous result. He left his computer on for three years to help him with his calculations.


The solving of the code led to the opening of a time capsule from 1999, in which was found, among other things, material relating to the invention of the Internet, the Ethernet and the digital spreadsheet; but what interested Bernard Fabrot the most was Zork, one of the very first video game series.

No financial reward was promised, but the Belgian had the opportunity to meet the great names in IT at the ceremony held in his honour at the prestigious Institute of Technology in Boston.