(See slide #7 in "Slide Show" mode to see the electricity flow in the animated and anatomically correct Enigma
Or click here.)
The Enigma machine was invented over 100 years ago, and it proved to be quite an ingenious invention! This was one of
the first cipher devices in history to use electricity to encode a message, which was a giant leap in technology from
the manual cipher methods of the day. The brute cryptographic strength of the Enigma gave the Germans the utmost
confidence in the secrecy of their messages during World War II. While this confidence was logical and justified, it
later became their downfall because they refused to believe the evidence that the enemy was reading their messages!
The story of the Allies overcoming the odds and breaking the Enigma is a story of innovation, intrigue, and deception;
which significantly shortened the war and ushered in the age of computers. The success of cracking the Enigma was kept
secret for over 40 years, despite tens of thousands of people working on the effort in the UK and US. This secrecy is
especially incredible for us to comprehend in the age of the internet, WikiLeaks, and Edward Snowden. Over 35,000
Enigma machines were manufactured, but only 380 are known to exist today.
The search for the world's oldest surviving cipher devices has never been systematically pursued. Part of the reason is the secret nature of these
devices means that few have survived and some of the surviving examples may be stored in museums or other collections and not recognized as cipher
devices at all.
Prior to this undertaking, the oldest known cipher device was a Vigenere disk made by Nicholas Bion of France in hte late 1600 to early 1700s. This
original research resulted in the identification of 6 earlier cipher devices, with the oldest device from King Henry II of France and dated to 1547-59,
150 years older than the previously recognized oldest cipher device!
This is the story of the invention and history of the cylinder cipher, starting with the c.1795 invention by Thomas Jefferson. This is a
simple, user-friendly, and cryptographically strong cipher device for its time and was in use for over 160 years. We have evidence of the
creative spark from Thomas Jefferson and Parker Hitt which brought about their independent inventions. The acceptance of the M-94 into the
US military after WW1 is a story of deception involving the titans of early US cryptology; Joseph Mauborgne, William Friedman, and Herbert
The invention of the one-time pad was incorrectly attributed to the wrong inventor for almost 100 years, until
the original inventor was discovered in 2011. This follows a long tradition in cryptology of giving credit to
the wrong inventor. Although the one-time pad is famous for being unbreakable, three historic examples will
show three different ways in which this unbreakable cipher device was broken, with devastating results.
Cryptology played a crucial role in the Civil War, but historically this role has been underappreciated and overlooked. The new invention of
electric telegraphs, as well as aerial telegraphs using flag and lantern signaling, meant the generals had much better information and control
in executing their battlefield strategy. This advantage, however, introduced the risk of having those signals easily intercepted by the enemy.
This new innovation of immediate battlefield communications as a strategic advantage was leveraged by the generals on both sides of the war.
Ensuring the security of your own messages and breaking your enemy’s messages was the new battlefield of this secret war. The contest between
code maker and code breaker was a battle of wits that would have serious and sometimes fatal consequences for the soldiers on the field.
The story of the secret "Gemtlemen's Agreement" between Boris Hagelin and William Friedman of the NSA had huge consequences for the scores of
countries who relied on the Hagelin pin and lug cipher devices. This secret NSA "backdoor" into the C-52 was in place for almost 40 years before
being publicly revealed by Iran after they kidnapped the Hagelin salesman and collected a million dollar ransom.
This is the story of the ingenuity and intrigue of 2000 years of military cipher technology, starting with Julius Caesar and continuing
today with modern public key cryptography. All the major historical categories of cipher technology will be explored as the battle of wits
between codemakers and codebreakers has continued to escalate.