Cryptologic Bytes

"On This Date in History" Calendar

1889: Agnes Meyer Driscoll, noted cryptanalyst, was born.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018
1889: Agnes Meyer Driscoll, noted cryptanalyst, was born.

24 July 1889: noted U.S. cryptanalyst Agnes Meyer Driscoll was born. Ms. Driscoll's work as a navy cryptanalyst who broke a multitude of Japanese naval systems, as well as a developer of early machine systems, marks her as one of the true "originals" in American cryptology.

Agnes Meyer Driscoll was inducted into the NSA/CSS Cryptologic Hall of Honor in 2000. Read the Hall of Honor page about Ms. Driscoll via the link at the end of the page. You can also learn more about Ms. Driscoll in the NSA 50th Anniversary Series article: "Madame X: Agnes Meyer Driscoll and U.S. Naval Cryptology 1919-1940" and the NSA publication, "The Neglected Giant: Agnes Meyer Driscoll" by Kevin Wade Johnson via the links below.

From the Women in American Cryptology NSA page:

Agnes Driscoll joined the U.S. Navy in 1918, with a degree in mathematics and physics, and a proficiency in English, French, German, Latin, and Japanese. She worked in their cryptologic office throughout World War I.

Staying with the Navy as a civilian, Mrs. Driscoll was instrumental in breaking Japanese naval systems between the wars. In 1930, she solved the Japanese system used during their Grand Maneuvers. The information learned indicated that the Japanese knew American operational plans. Later, she broke the Japanese "Blue Book" which required solving both the code and the overlaying cipher simultaneously.

Mrs. Driscoll also assisted in the development of an early cipher machine and encouraged the use of tabulating machines for cryptanalysis. She retired from NSA in 1959.

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