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"On This Date in History" Calendar

1891: American Cryptologic Pioneer William Friedman Born

Sunday, September 24, 2023

24 September 1891: American Cryptologic Pioneer William Friedman was born in Kishinev, Russia (now Chisinau, Moldova). Friedman was inducted into the NSA/CSS Cryptologic Hall of Honor in 1999. Read the full Hall of Honor page regarding his career and accomplishments via the link at the end of this page.

In April 2015, NSA released historical material (over 7,000 documents) related to William Friedman's work and career. Also in April, new exhibit, "William Friedman: A Life in Cryptology" was opened at the National Cryptologic Museum. See photos and learn more about the exhibit via the link at the bottom of this page.

The photo by Walter Bennett features both William Friedman and his wife, Elizebeth Friedman as Elizebeth is credited with introducing William to the field of cryptology.

From William Friedman's Hall of Honor page......

After receiving a B.S. and doing some graduate work in genetics at Cornell University, William Friedman was hired by Riverbank Laboratories, what would today be termed a "think tank," outside Chicago. There he became interested in the study of codes and ciphers, thanks to his concurrent interest in Elizebeth Smith, who was doing cryptanalytic research at Riverbank. Friedman left Riverbank to become a cryptologic officer during World War I, the beginning of a distinguished career in government service.

Friedman's contributions thereafter are well known-- prolific author, teacher, and practitioner of cryptology. Perhaps his greatest achievements were introducing mathematical and scientific methods into cryptology and producing training materials used by several generations of pupils. His work affected for the better both signals intelligence and information systems security, and much of what is done today at NSA may be traced to William Friedman's pioneering efforts.

To commemorate the contributions of the Friedmans, in 2002 the OPS1 building on the NSA complex was dedicated as the William and Elizebeth Friedman Building.


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