Elonka Dunin

Elonka Dunin (born December 29, 1958) is an American cryptographer and video game developer. In 2003, she led the team that cracked the Cyrillic Projector cipher. Her book The Mammoth Book of Secret Codes and Cryptograms was published in 2006. She is generally considered to be the "leading Kryptos expert in the world, and maintains a website with a list of well-known unsolved ciphers.

Elonka Dunin is an executive and game developer at Simutronics Corp. in St. Louis, Missouri, and was a producer on the team that created CyberStrike, the multiplayer game which won the first award for Online Game of the Year from Computer Gaming World magazine in 1993. She is a co-founder and chairperson of the International Game Developers Association's Online Games group, and senior editor on peer-reviewed IGDA State of the Industry white papers.


Elonka Dunin was born in Santa Monica, California, the older of two children to Stanley Dunin, a Polish-American mathematician, and Elsie Ivancich, a Croatian-American dancer and dance ethnologist at UCLA.

Dunin graduated in 1976 from University High School. She was enrolled as an undergraduate at UCLA, majoring in astronomy, for roughly one year, after which she joined the United States Air Force, working as an avionics technician at RAF Mildenhall in the United Kingdom and Beale Air Force Base in California. After the USAF, she traveled the world working at a variety of jobs, ranging from a computer programmer in Denver, Colorado to an English teacher in Rio de Janeiro.

In the 1980s, she became involved with the growing BBS culture and in one year spent $15,000 on computer time. In 1989, while working as a temporary legal secretary in Los Angeles, this interest overlapped into the early multiplayer games, such as British Legends on CompuServe and Simutronics' GemStone II on GEnie.

Online games

In 1990, Dunin moved to St. Louis and began working for the online game company Simutronics. Simutronics launched its own website,, in 1997 with Dunin as Supervisor of Online Games. In 1999, she held the position of general manager of Simutronics' on-line community. Dunin was the product manager for GemStone III, executive producer for the Hercules and Xena-based multiplayer game Alliance of Heroes, and worked on the development of most of Simutronics' other products, including CyberStrike, Modus Operandi, DragonRealms and the upcoming Hero's Journey. She currently is the "General Manager of Online Community". She is a founding member of the International Game Developers Association's Online Games SIG and senior editor of two of their annual White Papers on various aspects of the online game industry IGDA White Paper, Web and Downloadable Games, IGDA White Paper, Persistent Worlds.


In 2000, Dunin cracked the PhreakNIC v3.0 Code, an amateur cryptographic puzzle created by a hacker group. In 2002, she spoke at CIA headquarters about steganography and Al-Qaeda. During this visit she began a closer study of the CIA's Kryptos sculpture. She began to build a website compiling all of the works of the Kryptos sculptor, James Sanborn. In 2003, she organized an effort to solve the code on a Kryptos sister sculpture, the Cyrillic Projector, which succeeded in September 2003 after the cryptographic portion was cracked by Mike Bales of Dunin's team, and Frank Corr of North Carolina.

According to Dunin, these events, as well as hints referring to Kryptos on the bookjacket of Dan Brown's 2003 bestseller The Da Vinci Code, steadily increased the popularity of her website. In May, 2003, Dunin, along with the late Gary Warzin, co-founded the Yahoo Group Kryptos which is a focal point for online Kryptos activity. In January 2005, an article, "Solving the Enigma of Kryptos" appeared in Wired about Kryptos, and more media attention followed, including segments by CNN, NPR, UK's The Guardian, France's Libération, and others. In mid-2005, she was approached by the British publisher Constable & Robinson about compiling The Mammoth Book of Secret Code Puzzles, which was released in both the United States (with publisher Carroll & Graf) and United Kingdom in March 2006. In July, 2007 she appeared on the PBS program NOVA scienceNOW, as an expert on Kryptos.

Public speaking

Along with speaking to government agencies such as the FBI, CIA, and NSA, Dunin is a frequent speaker on cryptography and online games at conferences such as Dragon*Con, PhreakNIC, Def Con, Shmoocon, Notacon, and the International Game Developers Conference. She has been invited to be a co-host on the Binary Revolution webcast three times.


  • The Mammoth Book of Secret Codes and Cryptograms, US ISBN 0-7867-1726-2, was released April 2006.

The UK title of the book is: The Mammoth Book of Secret Code Puzzles, UK ISBN 1-84529-325-8

  • (editor) IGDA Online Games White Paper, 2002. PDF
  • (editor) IGDA Online Games White Paper, 2003. PDF
  • (senior editor) IGDA Web & Downloadable Games White Paper, 2004. PDF
  • (senior editor) IGDA Persistent Worlds White Paper, 2004. PDF



Dunin is quoted or thanked for contributions in the following books:

  • Amy Jo Kim's Community Building on the Web : Secret Strategies for Successful Online Communities, 2000, Peachpit Press. ISBN 0-201-87484-9
  • Lee Sheldon's Character Development and Storytelling for Games (Game Development Series), 2004, Course Technology PTR. ISBN 1-59200-353-2


External links

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