Tim May's Passing Confirmed

jim bell jdb10987 at yahoo.com
Wed Dec 19 14:04:48 PST 2018


    On Saturday, December 15, 2018, 11:10:46 PM PST, grarpamp <grarpamp at gmail.com> wrote:  
Author: Steven Levy
security 02.01.93 12:00 pm

Crypto Rebels

It's the FBIs, NSAs, and Equifaxes of the world versus a swelling
movement of Cypherpunks, civil libertarians, and millionaire hackers.

>By 1977, three members of this new community created a set of
algorithms that implemented the Diffie-Hellman scheme. Called RSA for
its founders—MIT scientists Rivest, Shamir, and Adleman—it offered
encryption that was likely to be stronger than the Data Encryption
Standard (DES), a government-approved alternative that does not use
public keys. The actual strength of key-based cryptographic systems
rests largely in the size of the key—in other words, how many bits of
information make up the key. The larger the key, the harder it is to
break the code. While DES, which was devised at IBM's research lab,
limits key size to 56 bits, RSA keys could be any size. (The trade-off
was that bigger keys are unwieldy, and RSA runs much more slowly than
DES.) But DES had an added burden: Rumors abounded that the NSA had
forced IBM to intentionally weaken the system so that the government
could break DES-encoded messages. RSA did not have that stigma. (The
NSA has denied these rumors.)

We have since learned that what became the RSA system started out by being invented by British GCHQ employee Clifford Cocks.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clifford_Cocks    
"Clifford Christopher Cocks CB FRS (born 28 December 1950) is a British mathematician and cryptographer. In 1973, while working at the United Kingdom Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), he invented a public key cryptography algorithm equivalent to what would become (in 1978) the RSA algorithm.
The idea was classified information and his insight remained hidden for 24 years, despite being independently invented by Rivest, Shamir, and Adleman in 1977.[4][5] Public-key cryptography using prime factorisation is now part of nearly every Internet transaction.[6][7]
×[end of quote from Wikipedia.]

I, Jim Bell, had my "Forrest Gump" moment, I believe during the first days of February 1977.  Very soon after my return to the MIT campus, I was walking through the hallways of Building 2, the Mathematics Department.  Posted, behind glass, were what I now believe was a statement of the RSA system. I think they had posted it in order to irrevocably make it no longer secret.
I suppose if I wanted to pump up my credentials, I could say that I immediately recognized the importance of this revelation.  Unfortunately, my reaction (if put into text) was far closer to "Huh???".
                Jim Bell
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