1337 Speak for Dummies
Ever wandered into some deserted corner of the internet and found some freaks typing like they were using only the top row of the keyboard? This is 1337 5934|<, a nearly-lost form of earth-language-encoding which uses numeric and punctuation characters to visually resemble letters, thus creating a form that so far is only human readable.
This initially came about in the wacky days of the 1980s, when people would, either in an honest attempt or an honest attempt at humor, encode key sentences in 1337 so that those who were truly not initiated into the culture - a passing parent, a roving reporter or full-on federal agent (9#3>) - would not notice the text.
While successful with the first group to this day, 1337 in its original form was not long-lasting, because feds weren't stupid, just clueless, and reporters tend to sniff out hidden clues as it's how they get paid (not to reveal what they know). However the hilarity of unreadable, barely recognizable text spread like wildfire.
By about 1984, speaking in 1337 in a public forum was how you demonstrated either cluelessness or silliness, and most people recognized it as a pathetic form of encoding used by those weak in the skillz department. Its usage continued only in certain circles as a form of twisted hilarity (I bear no resemblance to the user once known as 90783457).
Recently, 1337speak (leetspeak to some) has returned as a way for kiddie warez-n-kodez-n-pr0nez-psswrdez demi-hakk0rz to either a) hide their stashes 'n' shiznit from the prying eyes of those using search engines, -or- b) demonstrated satirical humor, usually accompanied by burnt-out digitalized ebonix, !!!11!!!!1!!, and references to mainstream cul7ure.
Although the gl0ry d4ys of the late 1980s w1ll never be with us ag4in, the remn4nt5 of a cultur3 0nce unbr1dl3d in its enthus5145m c0ntinu3 to l1ve 0n 1n 0|_|/> >3>1<4710/\/ 70 7#15 085<|_|/>3 \/\/3|_|_ /\/07 "4/>7|=0/>/\/\" 8|_|7 47 |_3457 4 >`/1/\/6 \/\/4`/ 0|= |_1|=3!!1!!
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