[Cryptography] Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers of World War II

John Newman jnn at synfin.org
Sat Nov 11 16:30:51 EST 2017

On November 11, 2017 12:24:47 PM EST, John Young <jya at pipeline.com> wrote:
>The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers of World War II
>By Liza Mundy
>Describes the experiences of several thousand 
>American women who spent the war years in 
>Washington, untangling the clandestine messages 
>sent by the Japanese and German militaries and 
>diplomatic corps. At a time when even 
>well-educated women were not encouraged to have 
>careers ­ much less compete with men to 
>demonstrate their mastery of arcane, technical 
>skills ­ this hiring frenzy represented a 
>dramatic shift. The same social experiment was 
>simultaneously unfolding on the other side of the 
>Atlantic. The British debutantes and their 
>middle-class peers recruited to work at the 
>secret Bletchley Park code-breaking operation came to outnumber the
>Mundy’s narrative turns thrilling as she 
>chronicles the eureka moments when the women 
>succeed in cracking codes, relying on a mixture 
>of mathematical expertise, memorization and occasional leaps of
>intuition. ...
>At the end of the war, virtually all of the 
>female code breakers were given their walking 
>papers and returned to civilian life. Only a few 
>superstars were asked to stay on (among them Ann 
>Caracristi, who went on to become the first 
>female deputy director of the National Security Agency).
>For these accomplished and resourceful women, who 
>had been given a heady taste of professional 
>success, it was jarring to have to fight to be 
>accepted to top graduate programs on the G.I. 
>Bill or embark on traditional paths as wives and 
>mothers. Warned not to reveal their secret 
>wartime lives, many remained silent about their 
>valuable service. Thanks to Mundy’s book, which 
>deftly conveys both the puzzle-solving 
>complexities and the emotion and drama of this era, their stories will
>live on.

I think they made a movie about this recently, Hidden
Figures... Or wait, actually that was about females
acting as "computers" for NASA in it's early days.

Stuff like project venona in it's early pre-computer days
and basically all code breaking before digital computers
always seems like a titanic feat when I think about it.

Early versions of UNIX had no "more" command 
because the "terminal" was a fucking piece of paper ;)
We are lucky, at least, that we have reasonable 
computer systems these days, even if everything else
is beyond fucked.

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