National Cryptyologic Museum

2009-12-30 15:28 - General

I've been playing with Twitter, through my phone. So I first announced this yesterday, but since no one reads/knows about my Twitter stream, and I can put better pictures here, I'm writing this post as well. I don't remember where, exactly, but I know when: back in September, I happened upon the webpage for the National Cryptologic Museum. Run by the NSA, it's just outside Fort Meade, which happens to be just minutes away from my grandparents' house. I know this because grandpa is a vet, and they regularly go to Fort Meade for vet-only services (including shopping). I was there (Maryland, grandparents' house) for xmas, so we visited.

It's mostly a collection of code breaking, and code making, machines from the first half of the 20th century, with a bit of newer and a tiny bit of older stuff, as well. Military applications. Here's my tiny photo tour.

An ENIGMA machine, from 1937. The 'Tunny' machine, a less famous cipher machine like Enigma. A Japanese machine, much like the Enigma, based on shared knowledge from the Germans. A selection of 'secure telephones'.  This was beside the nearly-room-size machine that preceded it. A quaintly out-of-date chart depicting some details of the evolution of the supercomputer, from the '60s through the early '90s. A cute-ish rack of machines with an old Intel logo, and the disturbing-sounding 'digital slicer unit'.  In the next rack over was a device from Singer.  Not a sewing machine.

For some more details: The first picture is an ENIGMA, the famous German encryption machine. The label at the top of this one shows it is from 1937. The second picture is the "Tunny", which

... was nicknamed Tunny by the British, after the ... [tuna fish]. ... [It] was used by the German army for high-level communications, and ... unlike ENIGMA, it did not substitute letters but instead encrypted elements of the electrically generated "Baudot Code" used in normal telegraphic transmissions.

This from no later than 1941 (when the British first discovered it). The third is a Japanese ENIGMA-like device, but

The Germans manufactured ENIGMA machines for the Japanese government but they were never received. "Officially," they were lost when the German submarine tasked with the delivery was sunk. Japanese experts, having very basic shared knowledge of the ENIGMA, created their own device.

Part of me really wonders how that keyboard worked, with the Japanese language. The other three pictures I have very few details for. Click them for the description in the lightbox.

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