Rot13(“Ryan”) = “Elna”

Caution: extremely nerdy post.

Back in the early days of Excite, just after we closed our first venture round, each of us received our own Sun workstation, truly a milestone moment, and a big upgrade from the surplus Sun 3 and Sun 4 workstations that we shared in a Palo Alto garage using vt220 terminals we bought at Stanford’s surplus store.

We each got to name our workstation. I named mine “Elna”. Why? Because the Rot13 of “Ryan” is “Elna”. Rot13 is a convenient quick and dirty cipher to disguise plain text. Basically, you replace each letter in a string by its companion 13 places further along in the alphabet, wrapping to the beginning if necessary. The great thing about Rot13 is it is reversible. Simply apply the function again, and you are back where you started.

Yesterday, on my flight back from LAX to DEN, to my great amusement, my stewardess’s name was “Elna”. I had long since forgotten about my first workstation’s name until I saw her name tag and it jogged my memory.

For fun with Rot13, go to and you can do your own translations. Try this one first: “Elna Naqerj ZpVagler”.

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