Sunday, November 05, 2006

Hagelin Crypto Machines

The story of cipher machines is for an important part written by one man. His name was Boris Hagelin. This brilliant Swedish engineer took over management of A. B. Cryptograph in 1925 and developed a series of Hagelin Cryptos machines that would lead the market of encryption devices for decades. After the Second World War Hagelin moved to Zug in neutral Switzerland and established Crypto AG. Many of his machines were commercially successful, thus making him the only inventor and developer of crypto machines in history to have made a fortune in that market.

After his first machine in 1925, the electromechanical B21, Hagelin developed the infamous drum-and lug encryption system, introduced in the first C type machine C-35. This machine was soon followed by the C-36, C-38 and the American licenced version M-209, of which more than 140,000 were produced. Many different versions of the C type machines were sold all over the world. In the Cold War era the C-52 and CX-52 set a new standard in cryptographic security. The electrical keyboard version BC-52 was a huge commercial success and was sold to more than 60 countries. He also developed the CD-55 and CD-57 pocket cipher machines, the TMX, T-52 and T-55 teleprinter encryption systems. The only rotor cipher machine, ever produced by Hagelin was the HX-63 which had the incredible key space of 10E600.

After the transition to fully electronic machines Crypto AG kept playing a leading role in the development of new crypto systems such as the H-4605, HC-520, and more recently the SECOS radio series, MULTICOM radio encryption, encrypted satellite lines and many IT solutions.

More on Boris Hagelin and his crypto machines on this web page. On my website you can download freeware software simulations of the BC-52 and M-209 cipher machines.

3 comments:

Frank Gerlach said...

The M-209 was broken by German Intelligence (OKW/CHi) in WW2.The Americans knew about the weakness of the cipher and used it only for tactical purposes. The real heroes of cryptography are to be found in NSA - people like Friedman (see the SIGABA machine). Hagelin's designs were for those who were cryptographically totally incompetent.

Dirk said...

@frank, please check out my comments on the CX-52.

Kry said...

A looking glass design then… I always been under the impression that Friedman’s analysis of the C-3x led to the “improved” M-209.