The History of the San Jose Semaphore

If you have flown into San Jose International Airport or driven by our San Jose headquarters, you have probably wondered what the rotating dials are on the side of our building. Mystery solved. The visual you see is a public art installation Adobe has sponsored called the San Jose Semaphore, which we recently reintroduced.

This public art installation is part of a commitment to the city we call home. In support of the arts and the city of San Jose, we wanted to pay homage to the 19th and 20th century San Jose Electric Light Tower that was blown down by a destructive storm through an art meets science approach – the Semaphore project. As we broke ground on our third office tower – the Almaden Tower, aptly named for the street it’s on, we dedicated the 18th and 19th floors to display the installation.

Our first code was transmitted on August 7, 2006, and it took a little over a year for it to be decoded. The team of Mark Snesrud and Bob Mayo – two research scientists – was honored for being the first (and only) team to break the code, which was the full text of Thomas Pynchon’s 1966 novel, The Crying of Lot 49.

Today, a brand-new code is being transmitted – and we’re still waiting for the first person or team to come forward with the answer. If you’re up for the challenge, definitely take a pass at it! You can view the transmission here. A one-year membership to Creative Cloud is up for grabs. Get all of the contest details on the “Crack the Code” page on the San Jose Semaphore Project site.

Good luck!