Hookup System for Passwords

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The Hookup System is a mnemonic system specifically for memorizing passwords, which may contain uppercase, lowercase, numbers and symbols. It was invented by Christopher Miller, whose great-great grandfather, Sir Isaac Pitman, invented Pitman Shorthand[1].

The system uses visual and word association with stereotypical characters and objects, with a Linking overlay. A key feature of the system is the usage of gender to denote letter case. There is a patent pending on forthcoming software and flash cards related to the technique, but Christopher Miller encourages free use of other aspects of the system.


Password characters are converted according to type:

  • UPPERCASE becomes a male character
  • lowercase becomes a female character
  • Numbers become food items
  • Symbols become other relevant objects

Most systems work best if users create their own associations, but this does not seem to make much difference in the Hookup System, since the primary function of the creation of association is to establish a visualisation in the mind, and the later requirement to make a link between the two characters/items fulfils this purpose quite effectively.

As a worked example of the system, consider the password: "Pz6gkYT4"

Character Association Interaction
P Male Pilot
The Male Pilot is taking the female zookeeper to collect an exotic animal.
z female zookeeper
The female zookeeper has got a six-pack in case she gets thirsty after mucking out the elephants.
6 a six-pack
The female gardener is keeping the six-pack cool until she has trimmed the borders.
g female gardener
The female karate champion is also a keen gardener.
k female karate champion
The female karate champion is giving the Male Yachtsman a playful kick over the side of the yacht.
Y Male Yachtsman
The Male Yachtsman is teaching the Male Teacher how to sail.
T Male Teacher
The Male Teacher has got four forks sticking out of his top pocket, and the children are laughing.
4 Four Forks

Functional description

Untrained users are generally surprised to find that they have recalled a complex jumble of characters without consciously making an effort to remember anything. The Hookup System appears to work in several different ways to achieve this.

  1. Word association works character by character, turning a single password character into a more concrete thing that can be assimilated by whatever system an individual user believes in or prefers. For example people are said to use visual, auditory or kinaesthetic functions to memorise and recall things. Equally, left and right brain functions are said to be more dominant in some people than others. This can affect how information is stored and recalled and the level of concentration and interest a user has in the operation. Using the triune brain paradigm, a single abstract password character can only be stored in the conscious brain for a very short period of time, but by converting it to something more concrete, the Limbic brain can fire off a feeling or emotion, which makes the thing more memorable.
  2. Visual association adds another layer to the word association, accentuating the Limbic brain's ability to reinforce the memory with emotional chemicals, and enabling the reptilian brain to recognise some of its favorite things, such as reproduction opportunities, food and aggression. In response to these, the Limbic brain fires off more memory-enhancing chemical emotions.
  3. Linking between characters ensures that each character is considered twice for more than just a cursory instant, with the exception of the first and last characters which are inherently more visible anyway. In linking, the image is processed for possible characteristics and likely behavior.
  4. The password can then be recalled in order, as each character leads to the next. Providing the user is willing to recall the first character, the others follow easily. The memory usually persists for at least a period of days without reinforcement.