Steve Bellovin Discovers Earliest One Time Pad Inventor

John Young jya at
Tue Jul 26 05:25:20 PDT 2011


The 1882 monograph that Dr. Bellovin stumbled across in
the Library of Congress was "Telegraphic Code to Insure
Privacy and Secrecy in the Transmission of Telegrams,"
by Frank Miller, a successful banker in Sacramento who
later became a trustee of Stanford University. In Millers
preface, the key points jumped off the page:

"A banker in the West should prepare a list of irregular
numbers to be called shift numbers," he wrote. "The
difference between such numbers must not be regular.
When a shift-number has been applied, or used, it must
be erased from the list and not be used again."

That sent the astonished Dr. Bellovin to the Internet to
try to find out whether Mr. Millers innovation was known
to the later inventors.

The results of his largely online detective work can be
found in the July issue of the journal Cryptologia.  ...

According to several independent specialists in cryptography,
Mr. Miller was undoubtedly the first to propose the concept
of the one-time pad.

"Miller probably invented the one-time pad, but without
knowing why it was perfectly secure or even that it was,"
said David Kahn, the author of the definitive 1967 book
"The Codebreakers." "Moreover, unlike Mauborgnes
conscious invention, or the Germans conscious adoption
of the one-time pad to superencipher their Foreign Office
codes, it had no echo, no use in cryptology. It sank without
a trace  until Steve found it by accident."

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