Hagelin and NSA

Last summer, I was reading an article about the Enigma machine, you know, the crypto machine that the Nazis amply used to cipher their communications and that was successfully broken by polish an then mostly brits during World War II, when I googled for other portable crypto machines used during the Cold War and I ended reading other article about the Hagelin CD-57.

Isn’t it beautiful?

At first glance, it looked to me as an old transistored radio, like the Sanyo TH-632 that I’ve talked before, but it’s more like a miniaturized version of the Enigma with all its rotors but no keys. Cryptographically improved, of course. This machine is very well described in this web of the online Crypto Museum that I encouraged you to read.

I rapidly got hooked on this gadget and I wanted to know more about the company and the people that made it. It turns out that the history of this machine and the company deserves a spy movie itself. It involves a Russian born-Swedish engineer, a Nobel company, military business with rival countries, an escape to USA, a deal with the NSA, a wayward son and released secret documents. This “Gentleman Pact” deserves your next 15 minutes. Enjoy them!

PS: Recently, some articles appeared in the press about this history (Washington Post, BBC, The Guardian and even in Spanish El País). They talk about how an investigation of the Washington Post reveals how the CIA was able to read the encrypted communications of allies and adversaries. I don’t know how those reporters can say that if the Crypto Museum wrote their information first…

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