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Dead medium: Dead Cryptanalytic Devices of World War II
From: (Bradley O'Neill)


Here are various cryptanalytic machines developed before and during WWII. An '*' notes those items for which I will submit more detailed working notes. I am listing all of them here beforehand, for purposes of scope, and to encourage any interested souls. I'm also compiling a bibliography on dead military media. Anybody who wants to participate can e-mail me.

The following list is gleaned from a superb source, _Information and Secrecy: Vannevar Bush, Ultra, and the Other Memex_, by Colin Burke, Scarecrow Press, Metuchen N.J. 1994. LC# HD9696.C772B87 1994.

WWII Cryptanalytic Devices

(from a table of terms and abbreviations on pp. xxi-xxvi)

*BOMBE - Electro-mechanical machines built by Britain and the US to attack ENIGMA.

COLOSSUS - Britain's special purpose electronic computer to attack the German FISH system.

*COMPARATOR - Bush's tape based-electronic cryptanalytic machines.

COPPERHEAD - OP-20-G [Naval cryptology division] WWII advanced versions of tape-based electronic cryptanalytic machines.

*ENIGMA - German encrypting device.

FISH - German teletype-like automatic encryption systems and devices.

FREAK (((no joke!))) - U.S. electromechanical cryptanalytic machine, WWII.

*FRUIT - Special electro-mechanical adding machine built for OP- 20-G by NCR during WWII.

*GOLDBERG - OP-20-G advanced version of Bush's Comparator.

HYPO - Analog optical crypanalytic machine built by Eastman-Kodak, during WWII.

ICKY - OP-20-G special microfilm machine.

IC MACHINE - Film plate machines, MIT-Eastman made for OP-20-G, WWII.

*LETTERWRITER - Special data entry machines IBM built for OP-20-G, WWII.

*LOCATORS - OP-20-G and SIS [US Army Cryptanalytic Agency] machines built for identifying locations of code items, but not for counting or tallying. Built during WWII.

MADAME X - SIS relay-based machine to attack German ENIGMA.

MATHEW, MIKE - U.S. electro-mechanical cryptanalytic machines, WWII.

*PURPLE - SIS/OP-20-G analog machine built for attack on Japanese diplomatic ciphers.

PYTHON - OP-20-G electrical analog of Japanese enciphering machine, during WWII.

*RAPID ARITHMETICAL MACHINE - An unbuilt Vannevar Bush computer of the 1930s.

*RAPID SELECTOR - Bush's ill-fated bibliographic micro-film device.

RATTLER - U.S. Navy electronic machine to attack Japanese automatic encryption systems.

ROBINSON - Britain's tape-based electronic machines, similar to the COMPARATOR.

ROCKEFELLER ANALYSER - Vannevar Bush/MIT updated version of Differential Analyser, financed by Rockefeller Foundation, completed in late 1930s.

WAVELENGTH ANALYSER - MIT optical-electric analog scientific measuring device, 1930s.

*WHIRLWIND - Postwar electronic digital computer built at MIT by group outside of Bush's circle.

There you are. A veritable fleet of dead (military) media waiting to be explored. These machines are, in many ways, 'missing links' in the popular conception of computer evolution.