Welcome to the National Cryptologic Museum Foundation. The NCMF directly supports the National Cryptologic Museum (NCM), the first public museum in the U.S. Intelligence Community.

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Polish mathematicians & code breakers made the first breakthroughs against Nazi Germany's Enigma code.......

1919: DoS approved creation of Cipher Bureau "Black Chamber."

Sunday, May 19, 2019
1919: DoS approved creation of Cipher Bureau "Black Chamber."

19 May 1919: Department of State approved creation of Cipher Bureau "Black Chamber." The Black Chamber was a precursor to the modern-day National Security Agency. It was the United States' first peacetime federal intelligence agency. Photo credit: NSA

The following is an excerpt from NSA Web page: Pearl Harbor Review - The Black Chamber. To read more, follow the link at the end of the page.

The sponsor for the Cipher Bureau was the State Department, although the Army and the Navy shared in the budgeting and decrypts. Herbert Yardley, formerly a code clerk for the Department of State, recently a major in command of MI-8, Military Intelligence's wartime cryptologic section, was chosen as head of the new civilian organization. The Cipher Bureau had the distinction of being the first national, civilian intelligence organization in peacetime.

After the Bureau was dissolved in 1929 and Yardley was out of work, he decided to write his story - eventually in the form of a book, "The American Black Chamber." The book was filled with good stories well told, as well as frank descriptions of Yardley's successes in cryptanalysis. It was a best-seller in 1932 -- overseas as well as domestically.

While many of his former colleagues and those now engaged in military cryptanalysis were appalled at the revelations in his book, Yardley defended his publication. He claimed self-righteously that his only motive had been to alert the United States to the weakness of its own systems and to the power of cryptanalysts. What he could do, he said, people in other nations could also do.

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THIS MONTH on the

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  • Birthday of cryptologic machine designer Edward Hebern. Hebern's five-rotor cipher machine is cryptologically significant as part of the overall evolution in U.S. manufactured rotor devices. The National Cryptologic Museum has two very rare five-rotor Hebern cipher machines in its collection.

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.