Say “password” today and the word will conjure up visions of a laptop or an application – not secret societies. Still, passwords have played an important role throughout human history to distinguish between who could and couldn’t enter a specific area, club or level of access to information.

During the American Prohibition Era, patrons often used passwords to get into a speakeasy or club serving alcohol. Say the wrong word to the doorman and you were kept out in the cold. Did this system keep lawmen out? Not at all. Patrons often gave up passwords, while secret agents could guess many of them. Sometimes they simply pushed right past the doormen.

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