The Dig

The Dig

Cryptology

Beyond periodically changing their login passwords, most people do not typically spend long hours pondering cryptology. Patrick Weadon, however, is not most people. As Weadon, Curator at the National Cryptologic Museum, explains, cryptology has had an extensive and impactful history.

History and importance of cryptology in the United States.

Weadon defines cryptology simply, as the “making and breaking of codes”, and says it’s one of the oldest disciplines known to mankind. Throughout peacetime and wartime in the United States, though arguably spurred by the World Wars and the Cold War, cryptology has developed in leaps and bounds.

Early electromechanical devices are on display at the museum, as are secure voice network artifacts, and the FROSTBURG machine, capable of 65 billion calculations per second. Though impressive, Weadon emphasizes that this machine is actually over twenty years old. He hopes it “gives [visitors] an idea” of the mathematical permutations and calculations involved in cryptology today, as well as where they’re headed in the future.

Although cryptology is less niche than it used to be, Weadon says the domestic and international importance of the discipline is highlighted throughout the museum, as well as the vital role of the Defense and Intelligence Agencies of the United States.

The Dig: Cryptology