[talk] Local Crypto Exhibit

Brian Reynolds nycbug-talk at reynolds.users.panix.com
Mon Feb 17 23:06:44 EST 2020

You may have seen the news recently about Crypto AG (a Swiss supplier
of cryptographic equipment) being owned by the CIA, and the West
German BND.



It turns out that the National Museum of Math down by Madison Square
Park in Manhattan has a Hagelin M-209 cipher machine as used by the US
Army during WWII and the Korean War.


This is the machine that started the whole saga.  After the war the
CIA approached Mr. Hagelin about providing weakened machines to some
of his clients, and eventually provided the designs for Crypto AG's
electronic machines.

If you go to the basement exhibit area you'll find a M-209 in a back
corner with a supply of messages to decrypt.  There are instructions
on entering the correct key on the wheels, and then how to decrypt the
messages with the machine.

The last time I was there at least one of the code wheels was
slipping, and every fifth letter of the output message was wrong, but
I was still thought it was the coolest exhibit in the museum.

Brian Reynolds -- reynolds at panix.com
"Long ago, it was the way of my people to travel to the Moon.  My people
travelled to the Moon in a ship called 'Apollo.' I tell the story of Apollo
in the hope that some day, my people will again travel to the Moon." P. Alway

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