Introduction to Number Stations
In this advanced age of computers and the internet, the use of radio may seem to be outdated. But let’s not forget that once the radio used to be an important mode of communication.
During World War 1, number stations have been used to transmit coded messages via shortwave radio antennas. These transmissions can sound nonsensical to casual listeners. But the ones with the knowledge of coded messages can decode it to understand the actual message.
For those who do not know what number stations are or what they were used for, you are in the right place. In this post, we will tell you everything you need to know about number stations. Along with that, we will also talk about fictional novels about number stations.
What is a numbers station?
A numbers station is a shortwave radio station that sends formatted numbers to the receiver. Technology like speech synthesis, phase-shift keying, Morse code, and frequency-shift keying is used to transmit these coded messages.
Most of the stations had a set time of operation. However, there are also stations that broadcasted messages at any random time. The practice of sending coded numbers was more prominent during the time of World War 1.
Although this is an old method, it is one of the best ways to convey confidential messages over a transmission network.
We live in the age of internet and top security. Despite all that hacking is easy. But when it comes to coded numbers even hackers cannot decide it. That’s because they are not familiar with the logic behind the numbers. Only those who know how to decode these messages can handle it.
How does the numbers station work?
To understand the concept of the numbers station, you need to first understand how it works.
Let’s say, you want to send a highly confidential message to a person. In this case, you cannot use any simple messaging option as it can be read by anyone. You need a more sophisticated method to convey your message. This is where the need for coded numbers comes into the scene.
In this case, both the sender and the receiver need to set a puzzle in which you set one end and send the remaining to the other person. This can either be done at the same time or in intervals. To help you understand it even better, let’s give you an example.
For example, you send 9052 as the code to the other person who has a number that he will subtract from the number you have sent. He will now wait for your code to decode the message. This is just an example. The logic can differ.
Are number stations fictional?
As already mentioned above, number stations have existed, since the time of World War 1. However, not many countries opened about the use of number stations except one. It was the Ministry of Czechoslovakia that first admitted to using number stations. Later, even Great Britain admitted to having used number stations.
Number stations used to be a secret mode of communication back in the days. It was kept a big secret because of many reasons. This led to the creation of an array of fictional works on the concept of number stations.
Books and Fictional novel about number stations
We have listed some of the best books and fictional novels about number stations below.
- Shadows of the State by Lewis Bush
On the first spot, we have the “Shadows of the State” by Lewis Bush. This photographic project talks about the work of two radio listener groups which were Number ODGT and Enigma 2000.
- Secret Signals: The Euronumbers Mystery by Simon Mason
The “Secret Signals: The Euronumbers Mystery” by Simon Mason is one of the most popular fictional works on number stations.
- In the Dark by Mai Jia
“In the Dark” is a Chinese novel by Mai Jia where he pens down the story of the life of a cryptographer who works for the Chinese government. He decodes the number of station signals from the enemy. This is considered to be the best fictional novel about number stations ever written by many people around the globe.
Music compositions on number stations
You can find many top musicians who have made music out of the sound that was transmitted by the numbers station. This is not just limited to the bands in the US, but from all across the world. You can search for such music albums on the net.
For example, the Conet Project is a compilation of shortwave signals. This was released back in 1997.
Radio and podcasts about the number stations
It won’t be a surprise if you find the recordings of the voice synthesized messages about the number stations sent out via the public radio stations in the form of podcasts. Radio stations all around the world have recordings of number stations.
Movies and TV shows about number stations
Even the movie and TV industry are not left behind when it comes to number stations. However, no movie is entirely made on the concept of number stations. But you can find many references both in the movies and TV shows where the concept of number stations is clearly shown. The references are used in all types and genres of movies all across the world. Some of the series where you can find the reference include the Americans, Lost, and Z Nation.
Video games on number stations
You will also find many video games that are developed on the lines of number stations. These games are indeed very popular among the younger population.
Number stations were and are still considered to be very important. They were indeed used during World War 1. This may not be accepted by the countries, but number stations helped them send confidential messages. This is why we get to see its reference in many movies and shows.
When was number stations first used?
- The use of number stations was prominent during World War 1. It was used by many major countries, but it was kept a secret. It was years later that some of them admitted to using number stations.
Do number stations still exist?
- According to experts, numbers stations exist even today. They believe that only a few of them are left. However, they don’t have any clue where the numbers station is or which countries are using it. No government has officially agreed to use numbers stations.
What is the numbers station used for?
- Number stations are used for sending coded number messages to a person. This was mainly used to send high confidential messages that are hard to decode unless you know the logic behind it.
Why are station numbers considered to be important?
- Stations numbers are considered to be important because they cannot be hacked. Even a hacker cannot decode the message, as they don’t understand the logic behind it.
How do number stations work?
- Numbers stations are shortwave radio transmitters that operate between 3,000 and 30,000 kilohertz. They are used to transmit strings of numbers intoned by a computerized voice. Others send broadcasts with the help of Morse code. Some only emit different types of noise.
Do video games also use the reference of number stations?
- It is not just movies and TV shows, but even video games are made on the lines of number stations. There are many such games in existence. These games are quite popular among the younger generation. You can find many such games on the net. If you are interested in playing such a game, then check it out.