Cryptologic Bytes

"On This Date in History" Calendar

1869: Birthday of Cryptologic Machine Designer, Edward Hebern.

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

23 April 1869: Birthday of cryptologic machine designer Edward Hebern.

The National Cryptologic Museum has two very rare five-rotor Hebern cipher machines in its collection. The Hebern Electric Company built what is acknowledged to be the first five-rotor cipher machine in the 1920's (a number of others were designed independently about the same time). Unfortunately for Mr. Hebern, both William Friedman and Agnes Myer Driscoll were able to solve messages encrypted on it, so the U.S. Army and the U.S. Navy never used his rotor-based machine. Although this machine was never widely manufactured or used, it is cryptologically significant as part of the overall evolution in U.S. manufactured rotor devices. We believe these two five-rotor machines are the only two that have survived. Financial assistance to acquire the Heberns came from an anonymous donor. See link below.

See Smithsonian photos of this rare encryption machine via the link below.


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