It is perfectly conceivable that by dropping the name of Edgar Allan Poe, who was synonymous with coded challenges to his audience, into the newspaper article in an offhand way, Dr. D.C.B. Marsh was probably hoping the Zodiac Killer would use the techniques of Poe in offering us his name in subsequent ciphers. This would allow Marsh to narrow down the avenues of encryption used in any future Zodiac correspondence. When we consider the November 8th 1969 and April 20th 1970 codes of Zodiac, in comparison to Poe's A Few Words on Secret Writing, it is conceivable that the Zodiac Killer brought an essay from the last century into the heart of the Bay Area and presented this historic offering to The American Cryptogram Association.
So, after reading this newspaper article, the Zodiac Killer toddled off to the nearest library and searched for the works of Edgar Allan Poe. He arrived at A Few Words on Secret Writing - and remembering that Marsh had invited him to create a cipher "however complicated" - the Zodiac Killer took a prompt from the Poe essay and did completely the opposite. Wouldn't it be expected by observers, having had his 408 cipher cracked in a matter of days by the Harden's - and being challenged by Marsh to create a cipher "however complicated" - that the Zodiac Killer would dish out the mother of all ciphers. A cipher so devilishly fiendish, we would still be sweating over it 50 years later. The Zodiac Killer, knowing this would be expected of him, did completely the opposite and created a cipher on November 8th 1969 so unbelievably easy, that it still slipped through the cracks of the over-thinking mind. Not only that, but he got his idea from the wording of Edgar Allan Poe, as Marsh had hoped.
The Zodiac Killer studiously continued down the essay just one paragraph, until the wording triggered off the second light bulb in his head. It stated "A very common, and somewhat too obvious mode of secret correspondence, is the following. A card is interspersed, at irregular intervals, with oblong spaces, about the length of ordinary words of three syllables in a bourgeois type. Another card is made exactly coinciding. One is in possession of each party. When a letter is to be written, the key-card is placed upon the paper, and words conveying the true meaning inscribed in the spaces. The card is then removed and the blanks filled up, so as to make out a signification different from the real one. When the person addressed receives the cipher, he has merely to apply to it his own card, when the superfluous words are concealed, and the significant ones alone appear. The chief objection to this cryptograph is the difficulty of so filling the blanks as not to give a forced appearance to the sentences. Differences, also, in the handwriting, between the words written in the spaces, and those inscribed upon removal of the card, will always be detected by a close observer".
Or, the card is punched with 13 holes, which when placed in true 'Dick Tracy' style over the 340 cipher, reveals the skeletonized version of Paradice and Slaves bisecting the cipher, 17 by 17 in cruciform. The rest of the 340 cipher filled with random noise, but fashioned in such a way to give the appearance of design, by forming the tell-tale signs of a real cipher. The Zodiac Killer even had the brazen cheek to correct one character of nothing, thereby feeding the false notion of a cipher he was conscientiously trying to get right. He even had the time to sign his work of art on the bottom line of his masterpiece. A work of art, but a work of fiction, that has been believed as credible for longer than Robert Graysmith.
Several paragraphs later, and in order, the Zodiac Killer arrived at the Marsh trigger. Remember the challenge laid down by the eminent cryptographer: "Zodiac has not told the truth in his cipher messages to the Examiner, the Chronicle and the Vallejo Times-Herald. Zodiac has not done this, because to tell the complete truth in relation to his name - in cipher code - would lead to his capture. I invite Zodiac to send The American Cryptogram Association a cipher code, which will truly and honestly include his name". This challenge is whirring around Zodiac's brain when he observes the piece of text in Poe's essay that mimics the challenge of Marsh. The text reads "This challenge has elicited but a single response, which is embraced in the following letter. The only quarrel we have with the epistle, is that its writer has declined giving us his name in full. We beg that he will take an early opportunity of doing this, and thus relieve us of the chance of that suspicion which was attached to the cryptography of the weekly journal above-mentioned — the suspicion of inditing ciphers to ourselves. The postmark of the letter is Stonington, Conn. S———————, CT., APRIL 21, 1841".
When we consider the challenge of Dr. D.C.B. Marsh to encourage the Zodiac Killer to give us his name in cipher form, with an encryption technique of a split alphabet presented in A Few Words on Secret Writing (shown below) - in combination with the postmark of April 21st above - then it is rather revealing that Zodiac should begin his April 20th 1970 cipher with "This is the Zodiac speaking. By the way have you cracked the last cipher I sent you. My name is....", and form it into 13 characters beginning with A, and ending with M. The Zodiac Killer was kind of mischievous like that.
It turned out that Zodiac didn't give us his name in full in the 13 character cipher, but he did give us something.