Read something
May 28, 2017 4:38 AM   Subscribe

Need something to read on a Sunday? The story of Codes and Codebreakers in World War I is an interesting little chapter which is still less-known than the famous codebreaking effort of WWII. Maybe you're intrigued and want to read the whole online book, Codes, Ciphers and Codebreaking, or, if codes aren't your thing, maybe A History of the Telescope or Missions to the Planets or Elementary Chemistry or any of the other on Greg Goebel's Vectors site - dedicated to educational writings on science, technology, and history.
posted by Wolfdog (7 comments total) 53 users marked this as a favorite
Are you kidding? I need something to read on Sunday morning every day of the week! This looks great, can't wait to dig in.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 5:06 AM on May 28, 2017 [2 favorites]

This looks like a great site. Thanks for posting.
posted by wittgenstein at 5:42 AM on May 28, 2017

Metafilter: This looks like a great site. Thanks for posting.
posted by plep at 6:37 AM on May 28, 2017 [3 favorites]

Japanese code makers: let's go ahead and make our encryption system use numbers divisible by 3, so it has a built-in garble check for our radio clerks to check the encoding/decoding process.

Allied mathematicians drafted into the war effort: Ho Ho Ho! You done de-randomized your cyphers!

Chris Christensen has been doing some great research into what was really going on with machine codebreaking, here's a video summary:

So the Navy was working with NCR to make machines that were programmed to attack this weakness (much like how the British at Bletchley Park were making machines to attack German messages). After the war the machine group was spun-off to a captive corporation called "Engineering Research Associates" [wiki] -- NCR wanted to get back into their cash register business their was no apparent mass market for special-purpose computing machines in the postwar. Remington Rand bought ERA and combined them with their recent acquisition of EMCC, the company the Army funded to build ENIAC [EMCC's UNIVAC and follow-on projects weren't producing enough cash-flow]. Later in the 1950s Sperry bought Remington Rand to become Sperry Rand, and then in 1986 Burroughs bought that to create Unisys.

[Unisys currently has a market cap of ~$600M, less than 0.075% of Apple's current market cap.]

Anyhoo, according to wikipedia, some ex-ERA peeps weren't happy at Sperry and they went off to form Control Data Corporation, which later brought on Seymour Cray, of later Cray Computers fame.
posted by Heywood Mogroot III at 8:44 AM on May 28, 2017 [7 favorites]

Nice site. It reminds me of the home page of John Walker, author of AutoCAD. There's also the far weirder Canadian Mind Products, the esoteric and beloved Searchlores, and a bunch of others I'll probably remember at annoying times throughout the week. This one will be good reading for a little while.
posted by iffthen at 10:04 AM on May 28, 2017

I love the older crypto stuff -- so thank you, I'll enjoy this Monday, while recovering from the pain of Sunday's gardening!
posted by wenestvedt at 8:09 PM on May 28, 2017

I just lost several hours wandering down some of tbose rabbit holes...
posted by WalkerWestridge at 10:47 PM on May 28, 2017

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