Codes and Deciphering that Changed the Course of History

The author Edgar Allen Poe once said;

‘human ingenuity cannot concoct a cipher which human ingenuity cannot resolve’

    • Some of the most complex of coding systems, whilst driving many quite literally mad, in their attempts to unscramble them, have been eventually deciphered.
    • Some of these codes and their deciphering, changed the course of mankind in the process.

The brilliantly creative mind of  Samuel Morse, who created the ‘Morse Code’, enabling language to be encoded and transmitted, was just one of a stream of ingenious encoders that leave a trail of riddle and puzzles to be resolved.

Some of the most important and that had the greatest impact were the codes and their deciphering developed in the two world wars.

    • The ADFGX code was invented by Colonel Fritz Nebel, in the early C20th.
    • It was a complicated code which the Germans used to good effect in WWI.It depended upon the letters ADFGX,  sounding very different when transmitted via Morse Code.
    • It was eventually unscrambled by French cryptographer, Captain Georges-Jean Painvin.
    • It enabled the French to foil a planned attack on Paris, in June 1918.

Probably one of the best known codes and the work of  deciphering it, was the Enigma Code, broken by mathematicians working at Bletchly Park, during WWII.

    • Alan Turing, probably the world’s greatest computer scientist, broke the German’s Enigma Code and in doing so changed the course of history.
    • The work of Turing and his colleagues, whilst incredibly important in terms of the outcome of WWII, became instrumental in the creation of computers and their development herein.

Two papers that Turing wrote whilst working at Bletchly Park have just been released by Britain’s GCHQ, to The National Archive. They have been of such profound and fundamental importance that their release, even 70 years after they have been written, still had to be considered carefully.


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