During the Victorian era, newspapers could be sent without charge; the poorer classes of the time made use of this and invented the newspaper code. The process could not be more straightforward. Holes were poked just above the letters in the newspaper so that when the dots were transferred and written together the secret message would be revealed. While this method of steganography took a fair amount of time, it did allow people to communicate freely.
Newspaper codes resurfaced during World War II and into the Cold War, although during this time the pinholes were replaced by either secret ink markings or invisible ink, which made the codes much harder to detect. Unfortunately, the newspaper code in the twentieth century had one big drawback: speed. Newspapers were sent as third-class mail, which often took quite a while for a message to be sent. Usually, war conditions had changed by that time. In addition, the man-hours required by American censors quickly made checking every newspaper clipping impractical, and eventually all newspapers were banned from entering the country.