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

1562: Death of Johannes Trithemius

Tuesday, December 15, 2020
1562: Death of Johannes Trithemius

15 December 1562: Death of Johannes Trithemius, author of the oldest book on cryptology, "Polygraphaie." He began writing the book in 1508, but it was not published until 1518. In fact, Trithemius wrote several books and finished them quickly, but they were not published until after his death. This photo is of the Museum's rare book exhibit, which includes a copy of "Polygraphaie." Click to learn about the NCMF's acquisition of a publication by Trithemius from Dr. David Kahn.

The major works of Trithemius include "Steganographia," (which means in Greek, "hidden writing") written circa 1499, "Polygraphiae," a cryptographic work, and "De Septum Secundeis," a history of the World based on astrology.

Trithemius was also a magician. In his trilogy -"Steganographia," books one and two were clearly systems for encoding and were the first books written on cryptography. The third book in the trilogy was more buried in the guise of occult astrology. Many took the writing literally and thought the numbers contained secrets to conjuring spirits. Scholars, however, went further and discovered the writing contained a code and began working to decipher it. The messages encrypted in Trithemius's tables turned out to be somewhat ordinary sentences.

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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.