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1939: Army's SIS Translates PURPLE

Sunday, September 1, 2019
1939: Army's SIS Translates PURPLE

1 September 1939: The Army's SIS issued first PURPLE translation.

Excerpt from NSA.gov article - "The solution of PURPLE was a team effort, under the overall direction of William Friedman, with Frank Rowlett leading the day-to-day efforts. Genevieve Grotjan, Albert Small, and Samuel Snyder, junior cryptanalysts, also made important contributions in solving the system.

Once the system had been solved, William Friedman established what may have been the first compartment for intelligence information in the U.S. Decrypts were marked with the codeword "MAGIC" to show they needed extra protection. According to the story, Friedman chose this codeword because he liked to describe his cryptanalysts to outsiders as "magicians."

When SIS personnel had solved the PURPLE system, they came up with the concept of building their own version of the machine for faster decryption, a device they called the "PURPLE ANALOG." An electrical engineer in SIS named Leo Rosen produced a prototype, according to legend, constructed in his basement. Since the Army lacked the machine shop capabilities to make additional units, SIS asked the Navy to make PURPLE ANALOG copies in its facilities."

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About Us

The NCMF directly supports the National Cryptologic Museum (NCM), the first public museum in the U.S. Intelligence Community. We think you will agree it is truly a "museum like no other."

Located adjacent to the National Security Agency (NSA) in Maryland, the NCM houses a priceless collection of artifacts that represent our Nation's history in code making and code breaking, as well as a world class library of cryptologic media. The NCMF acquires the best artifacts for the NCM and supports new educational and interactive exhibits.

The NCMF provides exceptional cryptologic programs throughout the year, encourages young minds to explore cryptology and innovation through valued awards, and hosts educational, cryptology-related exhibits at various community events.

As part of the Foundation's partnership with NSA to build the Cyber Center for Education and Innovation - Home of the National Cryptologic Museum (CCEI-NCM), the NCMF also serves as a leader in the field of cybersecurity - striving to provide the best in educational resources and programs.

The NCMF and NCM share a joint three-fold mission to Educate, Stimulate, and Commemorate. Learn more about our MISSION.