We started writing cryptic crosswords for the Atlantic Monthly in 1977, and around that time we began wondering (the way you do when your mind has a certain congenital warp) what group of eight letters would yield the highest number of transposals. We wrote to Mary Hazard, who had published some kind of lipogrammatical poem in a magazine (we now forget which); in the biographical blurb about her was the info that she edited The Enigma for the National Puzzlers League. She wrote back to us and brought to our attention TANGIERS, GANTRIES, INGRATES, ANGRIEST, RANGIEST, TEA RINGS, INERT GAS, and GANISTER (plus a couple other obscurities). We were appropriately impressed and grateful and soon began subscribing to The Enigma. In fact, the first issue we received was the Nightowl tribute issue (January 1978); after that Mangie became the editor.
First Issue: Dec 1977
Our nom comes from the initials of our handles plus the symbol of our cruciverbalistic preoccupation. Since 1985 we've been living in south-central Pennsylvania where houses and barns are often decorated with hex signs. We have such a sign ourselves; it was made by Johnny Claypool, perhaps the most famous (apart from the Zook family) of Pennsylvania's hex-sign artisans.