[Cryptography] Brute force circa 1939

Ben Laurie ben at links.org
Mon Nov 12 18:34:31 EST 2018

On Tue, 13 Nov 2018 at 00:17, Henry Baker <hbaker1 at pipeline.com> wrote:

> I just watched the 1939 U.S. movie "Espionage Agent" (Google it), in which
> some of the dialog goes like this:
> "Ever since the World War [I], we've been trying to perfect a machine that
> would encode and decode automatically."
> "This machine offers a variation of 2372 entirely original codes -- 2371
> chances of being wrong -- even if he had a machine to work with."  (I'm not
> kidding -- those are the actual words & numbers from the movie.)
> Even 80 years of Moore's Law won't make 11 bits (or 9 bits, since
> 2372=2^2*593) look very good for 1939.
> Whoever from the FBI was advising this 1939 movie (Comey could only wish
> to have done so well!) in a technical capacity must have been ridiculously
> worried about giving away something to Germany, because even amateur
> cryptographers -- e.g., Edgar Allan Poe -- would have burst out laughing in
> the middle of this movie when it aired (showed ??) in 1939.  But as the
> Enigma Machine demonstrated, "2372 codes" must have also made the Germans
> burst out laughing when they saw it.  But perhaps that was part of the FBI
> plan -- convince the Germans that the U.S. was hopelessly naive about
> crypto and lull them into a sense of invincibility while Turing did his
> work.

The US declined Turing's assistance. Guess they were pretty naive.
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