In depth reporting and historical research by BBC has produced a very well done overview of some of the greatest defenders of western civilization, many of whom were left out of the history books. The report reviews some of the greats in code-breaking who over the last 100 years played significant roles in both defending information and breaking codes of adversaries. Thanks to BBC’s reporting, their contributions are now emerging.
The report begins:
“Picture this. In 1917, the United States is just entering World War One. But to begin with, its military is small and its capacity for intelligence gathering is severely limited. There is no NSA or CIA. In fact, military code-breaking is being done on a small but intense scale – at a mansion estate in the Illinois countryside owned by an eccentric millionaire.
And the two people at the centre of this extraordinary operation are the code-breaking team Elizebeth Smith and William Friedman, who would later marry. Neither had formal training in cryptanalysis. Elizebeth had studied Shakespeare and Tennyson at college and Friedman had a PhD in genetics. But – as is important both in literary and genetic analysis – the two were adept at recognising patterns.
They now found themselves cracking enemy codes sent from Washington at the only place in the country where this sort of work was, at that time, being done for the military.”
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