Age is just a number. I may be the oldest true cipher device in the world—200 years give-or-take—so don’t expect me to remember everything. I’m very similar to a ‘wheel cypher’ Thomas Jefferson designed in the 1800s.
Yes, me—a plain old basket. You see, random numbers make for secure codes. And nothing’s more random than pulling numbers out of a basket, right?
I am the only one of my kind left. A secret version of Germany’s renowned World War II encryption machine. There were once 24 of us. Now it's only me.
I live in Infamy. I’m the most important artifact in this exhibition. US Army codebreakers built me to replicate PURPLE, the Japanese Type B cipher machine, and break its code.
I'm fast. How fast, you ask?
I turned the tide. I’ve been deep under cover. In fact, the public has never seen me before, though maybe you’ve heard about what I did. I’m good at analyzing number patterns. During WWII, I helped US codebreakers crack JN-25, Japan’s main naval code. No mean feat.
I hooked the big tuna. I may be small, but I was once part of a giant: Colossus, the first programmable, electronic, digital computer. In the early 1940s, British engineer Tommy Flowers designed Colossus to crack the cipher of that fishy machine, the “Tunny." Thanks to me and Tommy, the Allies read German war plans in almost real time.
No machine could have invented me. Maybe that’s why I’m a code that was never broken.
Who’s Your PC’s Daddy-O? Like my classy chassis? Back in the '60s, I was one cool cat—the first desktop analog computer used at the NSA: “Eliminates drudgery...stimulates creativity...” My owner’s manual said it all. Solves math equations in under a minute.
After the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, I stepped in to enable direct communications between the White House and the Kremlin, to help the two superpowers avoid another crisis. I did the encryption. You thought the “hotline” was a red telephone? Don’t believe everything you see on TV.
I was a hotline in a Cold War. That you humans almost brought annihilation upon yourselves is hard for us machines to compute: 1962 + Cuba + Missiles = Armageddon? Almost. After that near miss, the US and Soviets sent each other teleprinters. My Russian language was used in Washington, DC, to send and receive messages directly to and from Moscow.
Seventy three seconds into flight, the ship broke apart. My crew lost their lives. I was rescued from the debris and am here to tell their story.
Security comes in all shapes and sizes. Sure, now you have more stylish models. But back in the ‘90s, I was right on trend as the NSA’s first secure cell phone.
Get an inside view on the key WWII code-breaking stories of Enigma, Purple (the Japanese diplomatic code) and Midway (JN25), see rare code-related artifacts, and try their hand at a variety of interactives, such as the Caesar Cipher and Cardano Grille.