Top WWII code cracker dies

    Date23 Jan 2001
    CategoryCryptography
    3404
    Posted ByAnthony Pell
    Leo Marks, WWII codemaker and codebreaker, and later playwright, has died aged 80. He was chief cryptographer of Special Operations Executive during WWII, having trained as a cryptographer in Bedford when called up for National Service. . . . Leo Marks, WWII codemaker and codebreaker, and later playwright, has died aged 80. He was chief cryptographer of Special Operations Executive during WWII, having trained as a cryptographer in Bedford when called up for National Service.

    During his training, The Telegraph reports, he cracked a code that was supposed to be a week-long group project, in an evening. This earned him the label "misfit" and got him sent to the Special Operations Executive, rather than Bletchley Park.

    One of his achievements during the war was to refine the "one-time-pad." He printed ciphers on silk squares so agents could carry the information more easily across borders. He also stopped the use of well known poems as code keys, replacing them with original works he wrote himself, massively tightening security.

    Later in the war he was in charge of devising encryption systems for the SAS and the Free French, among others.

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