The Chaocipher Clearing House
Progress Report #16
The National Cryptologic Museum Foundation (NCMF) acquires the Chaocipher machine and papersIt's official now: the National Cryptologic Museum Foundation (NCMF) recently announced on its web site
that it successfully negotiated the acquisition of John F. Byrne's
Chaocipher machine and papers from Mrs. Patricia Byrne, wife of John
Byrne and daughter-in-law of John F. Byrne. Mrs. Byrne kindly
donated the entire collection
of materials, papers, and correspondences to NCMF.
How the acquisition came aboutFor
the record, the hunt for the Chaocipher material began in August 2009
when I realized time was moving forward and that the junior John Byrne might
not be around for too many years. I knew from Kruh's and
Deavours's 1990 article that the junior John Byrne had lived in Vermont.
Several phone calls to persons named Byrne in Vermont finally
netted the one I was looking for: Patricia Byrne, the widow of the junior John
Byrne and daughter-in-law of John Francis Byrne. The junior John had
passed away a year or two earlier.
A combination of phone calls
and a long, detailed letter to Pat Byrne led to her associate, Cheryl
Needle, a book seller living in Pepperel, Massachussets. Cheryl
had been authorized by Pat Byrne to search for and negotiate a
buyer or a good home for the material. A professional bookseller
and antiquarian, Cheryl had cataloged the material but was still
looking for a lead. Cheryl and I communicated several times by
At one point I decided that the National Cryptologic
Museum in Ft. Meade, Maryland, USA would be the ideal home for the material.
An e-mail to David Kahn led to an introduction to David D'Auria,
the chairman of the NCM Acquisitions Committee. David D'Auria was
interested in pursuing the issue further. At that point, I put
Cheryl and Dave in contact with each other. Within a couple of
months Pat Byrne had magnanimously decided to donate the entire corpus
of Chaocipher material to the NCM.
General availability of the materialIn
the near future, all the Chaocipher material will be available to the
public through the NCMF library. Researchers will be able to
visit the NCM library and gain access to the material.
article is being written for submission to
Cryptologia. The article will describe the Chaocipher system
and analyze its technical and historical aspects.
(c) 2010 Moshe Rubin
Created: 1 June 2010
Last updated: 15 March 2011