Historical Correspondences Related to Chaocipher

Moshe Rubin (mosher@mountainvistasoft.com)

The cryptologic literature makes references to Chaocipher-related correspondences, spanning more than thirty years, between John F. Byrne and William F. Friedman.  These references include Byrne's quotes in his autobiography "Silent Years", David Kahn's descriptions in The Codebreakers, and numerous articles posted on The Chaocipher Clearing House (TCCH) web site.  Although known to a select few, these correspondences have never been publicly available.

The Chaocipher Clearing House is proud to present a significant amount of Chaocipher-related correspondences between John F. Byrne, William F. Friedman, and others.  It is our hope that making these correspondences available will shed historical light on this fascinating episode.


TCCH readers owe a great debt of gratitude to several indefatigable cryptologic researchers for unearthing these important correspondences.

(a) American Cryptogram Association (ACA) member Wesley H. Horton (DRIVE-IN) was the first to obtain copies of the 1922 and 1942 Friedman-Byrne correspondence from the NSA in 1985.  Horton made this material available to interested ACA members.

(b) The founding editor of the ACA Computer Supplement, Mike Barlow, sent copies of the 1922 and 1942 correspondence to any ACA member who requested it.  (Mike, who passed away in May 1990, was an energetic member of the ACA.  In 1986, after months of lobbying, on his own, he single-handedly developed the Computer Supplement, and was instrumental in interesting numerous ACA members in the Chaocipher.)
(c) In 1998, ACA member Jeffrey Hill (E. E. REMINGTON) following leads supplied by Mike Barlow, obtained copies of Friedman-Byrne material from the George C. Marshall Research Foundation that yielded a 1954 speech by Friedman made in response to Chapter 21 in Silent Years and also copies of letters exchanged between Friedman and Byrne in 1957, as well as the 1922 and 1942 correspondence already known.  Without Jeff's magnanimity these correspondences would not have seen the light of day on TCCH.

(d) In 2009, ACA member Hub Ratliff (HUB), a native of Austin, Texas,  kindly agreed to visit the Harry Ransom Center in Austin and thoroughly search through the entire folder containing John F. Byrne's papers.  This netted several unknown correspondences (e.g., Byrne's original 29 January 1957 letter to Friedman, Byrne's letters to Herbert O. Yardley challenging him to solve the Chaocipher messages).  I am most thankful to Hub for finding the time in his truly busy schedule to perform a sterling research job for me, albeit a fellow ACA member but a hitherto unknown entity<g>.

(e) In May 2013 Jeff Calof, a Chaocipher researcher who joined the effort in early 2009, traveled from California to the National Cryptologic Museum in Ft. Meade, MD with the express purpose of photographing every paper found in the Chaocipher archives located at NCM.  Because of Jeff's indefatigable efforts, students of cryptology and history now have full on-line access to everything found in the archives.  Without his journey, followed by his meticulous indexing and sorting out of the archival material, most of the Chaocipher-related material would not be available as it is today.

Full List of Correspondences (in chronological order)

The following table details a chronology of correspondences between John F. Byrne and a number of persons.  A link to a letter or correspondence is provided when relevant.  The sources include:

Year Date Sender Recipient Number of Pages Description Source Notes
1918 John F. Byrne discovers a novel cryptographic principle, leading to the invention of his Chaocipher. SY: 264
1920 January 24 Marcellus Bailey John F. Byrne 2 Bailey remarks on Byrne's letter of 20 January 1920 indicating Blueprints done, advises him on seeking local Patent Attorney SY:272,
1920 October 1 [?] Royston, Secretary, Dept. of State John F. Byrne 1 Reply to Byrne acknowledging receipt of 30 September 1920 to Hon. Francis P. Garvan, Assistant Attorney General.  Advises Garvan not in city at present, but expected back in coming week and letter will be forwarded to him then. NCM This letter has Byrne's address as 138 12th St, Long Island City, New York.  The 28 October 1920 letter from Shaw notes Byrne was not at that address;  context unclear whether this meant address incorrect, or reply attempted their and Byrne was not present.  The referenced 30 September 1920 letter to Mr. Garvan was not in the donated Byrne files.
1920 October 18 F.A. Levering Jr, Secretary to Alien Property Division, Dept. of State John F. Byrne 1 Reply to Byrne acknowledging receipt of 30 September 1920 letter to Garvin (Asst. Sec. of State), as well as that of the 17th to Royston, regarding Chaocipher.  Levering advised Hon. Colby, Sec. of State, was personally presented letter, not yet able to reply but would do so in near future. NCM Levering Jr. refers to two Byrne letters, one 'the 30th ultimo', the other 'of the 17th'.  No letter dated 17 October 1920 or 30 October 1920 found in Byrne files.
1920 October 29 G. Howland Shaw, Exec. Assistant to Secretary of State John F. Byrne 1 Reply to Byrne letter of 'the 26th' following up on his letter of 30 September 1920 offering cipher machine to the Dept. of State.  Advises examined submission but cannot pass value on 'invention of this sort'. NCM Byrne has circled a passage in the letter where Shaw notes acknowledgment attempted on October 1920 but was returned with the statement 'you were not at that address'.
1921 Undated, by material before Aug 3 Colonel Parker Hitt John F. Byrne 5-PDF* Handwritten letter to Byrne, noting Hitt's efforts to decipher "Lord's Prayer";  doesn't say who enciphered it, Byrne or Hitt (presumably Byrne).  Hitt notes 'errors and mistakes' that occur, also use of $ symbol and figures in cipher.  Ends letter saying "I am uncovering some curious things in connection with it".

*Also in Byrne file accompanying this note is the envelope to Byrne, as well as a hand-drawn cipher wheel (presumably by Hitt) with the following notes:  'Follower", 'Cascade for 2nd line', as well as additional text in center of wheel too faded to read clearly.  Some words that are legible include "reversed" and, it appears, "as follows".
NCM Letter is 2-sided on small piece of paper.  Hitt's references to the $ symbol and 'figures' in cipher support thesis that Byrne was already working with 36 character wheel (as represented by keyboard in his Blueprints of 1920), as well as Hitt's 3 August 1921 letter noting suspected transmission challenges with 36th letter or multiple thereof.

*Original photo and xerox-copy of envelope/wheel (to bring out light text of wheel) made, included in PDF
1921 August 3 Colonel Parker Hitt John F. Byrne 1 Hitt returns Chaocipher evaluation material, offers his initial opinion of the cipher system. NCM 19210803_Hitt_to_Byrne.pdf is original w/Hitt's signature, 19210803_Hitt_to_Byrne_B.pdf a copy typed by Byrne and highlighting qualifying statement by Hitt which Byrne omitted in SY.  There were actually 10 copies of this letter, apparently all typed by Byrne, in the donated file.
1921 September 2 Harry Fletcher, Under U.S. Secretary of State John F. Byrne 1 Reply to Byrne letter of 'the 29th' offering his cipher machine to the Dept. of State.  Advises "… the codes and ciphers now used are adequate to its needs" SY:274, 
Byrne has underlined the quoted text, and double-underlined the 'adequate to its needs' text.  This passage Byrne quoted and commented on in Silent Years.  The referenced letter of 'the 29th' was not found in the Byrne files.
1922 March 4 John F. Byrne Colonel Parker Hitt 1 Byrne offers Hitt and US Govt. his machine & principle for renumeration (noting machine not yet built), offers to come to Washington D.C. within a week to demonstrate NCM NCM document is on fragile, thin carbon paper.  This document is unsigned by Byrne.
1922 March 7 Colonel Parker Hitt John F. Byrne 1 Hitt declines to get personally involved in Chaocipher, offering to introduce Byrne to Major Frank Moorman. SY: 275, 
1922 March 17 Byrne travels to Washington, is introduced to Major Moorman and William F. Friedman by Colonel Parker Hitt, demonstrates his first model. SY: 275
1922 March 19 John F. Byrne Colonel Parker Hitt 2 Handwritten letter by Byrne, thanking Hitt for introduction to Friedman and Moorman earlier in week, says neither are competent to pass judgment on his principle.  Notes feedback from Friedman, asked to leave his device NCM
1922 August 21 John F. Byrne Major Frank Moorman This letter is referred to in the following letter from Moorman (26 August) SY: 276
1922 August 26 Major  Frank Moorman John F. Byrne 1 Major Moorman acknowledges Byrne's letter SY: 275-276,NCM
1922 August 31 William F. Friedman John F. Byrne 1-Letter

Friedman returns Byrne's model, notes a test encipherment he made showed repetitions and was therefore not suitable for military use. References an attached sheet, but this wasn't part of the donated Byrne file(!) NCM *On the flip side of Friedman's letter, there is a hand-written draft letter to Friedman from Byrne, but it is undated and appears to be missing a further page(s).  Here, Byrne notes model returned smashed, also points out his astonishment that Friedman said he had convinced himself of the validity of his opinion 'shortly after' his visit.  Not certain when formal iteration of Byrne's draft sent, but Friedman's 07 September 1992 response is aligned to what Byrne has written.
1922 September 7 William F. Friedman John F. Byrne 3 Friedman apologizes profusely for the damaged model returned to Byrne.  He also clarifies that this early model was not reliable, verifies that he performed analysis, and requests a set of messages from Byrne. GCMRF, 
*Friedman's letter is 2 pages.  Interestingly, on the backside of the 2nd page are a series of numbers/words… not certain who’s hand. Rene Stein (NCM Librarian) didn’t think they were Friedman’s.  Unclear as to their meaning;  also photographed and included in PDF.
1932 November 18 Louis Fairchild, Managing Editor of Byrne’s organization Franklin D. Roosevelt (Gov. of NY) 1 Letter to FDR introducing, promoting, and vouching for Byrne and "A Parable of Gold" NCM
1932 December 15 John F. Byrne Franklin D. Roosevelt (Gov. of NY) 1 Byrne writes to FDR asking if he had read "A Parable of Gold" yet, which Byrne notes was sent on 18 November 1932 with an introduction by his managing editor at Fairchild publications.  Expresses disbelief FDR w/ignore him, notes without a reply he may be out of a job at end of year. NCM On backside of letter, Byrne has handwritten "Me to FDR 2nd Letter"
1937 November 18 John F. Byrne Admiral Bowen 1 Letter is to Rear Admiral Harold G. Bowen, Navy Dept.  Byrne informs him about the availability of his Chaocipher system. SY: 277, 
In the photographed letter, Byrne has underlined where it says "working model of my own construction".
1937 December 2 John F. Byrne Colonel Parker Hitt 2 Byrne reintroduces himself to Hitt after many years, sends him "Chaocipher - The Ultimate Elusion" with explanation and offers challenge for Hitt to figure it out, noting he'll send plaintext as follow-up if Hitt is interested. NCM
1937 December 7 Captain J. M. Irish John F. Byrne 1 Replying on behalf of Adm. Bowen, thanks Byrne for the opportunity to examine his system. SY: 278, 
1937 December 18 Colonel Parker Hitt John F. Byrne 1 Reply from Hitt, notes he is on vacation, but Byrne is welcome to send additional data. NCM
1938 January 15 John F. Byrne Captain J. M. Irish 5 Sends Captain Irish a copy of the booklet "Chaocipher - The Ultimate Elusion".  Byrne also notes he is sending the set of Blueprints to Irish as well. SY: 278-279,NCM
1938 January 21 J.B. Dow (by direction) John F. Byrne 1 Navy Dept. Bureau of Eng, replies to Byrne acknowledging receipt of Blueprints, advises needs complete description with symbols added to blueprints for review consideration, including how encipherment / decipherment works NCM
1938 February 10 Captain J. M. Irish John F. Byrne 1 Irish replies to Byrne's letter of 26 January, reiterates cannot review cipher until detailed description, manner in which produced, and proposed machine furnished as requested. Does offer Byrne chance to present in person in Washington, D.C. NCM While Irish's letter directly notes a letter from Byrne dated 26 January 1938, no such letter found in Byrne files.  
1938 March 5 John F. Byrne Captain J. M. Irish 2 Byrne agrees a formal presentation in Washington D.C. is the only sensible action, delves into possible renumeration if Government adopts Chaocipher NCM While Byrne references a letter from Irish dated 17 December 1938, no such letter found in Byrne files.
1938 March 12 Captain J. M. Irish John F. Byrne 1 Captain Irish lists possible stipulations should the Navy choose to adopt the system. SY: 280, 
Byrne has highlighted in left-margin passage regarding potential purchase of invention vs. the rights to use it.
1938 March 22 W.J. Ruble (by direction) John F. Byrne 1 Navy Dept. Bureau of Eng. agrees to meet with Byrne to discuss Chaocipher NCM While Ruble's letter references a letter from Byrne dated 16 January 1938, no such letter found in Byrne files.
1938 March 25 John F. Byrne Captain J. M. Irish 1 Byrne accepts meeting proposal, suggests 4 April 1938… but also notes conference would be preliminary to any demonstration (which he'd provide on a subsequent date) NCM
1938 March 29 W.J. Ruble (by direction) John F. Byrne 1 Ruble accepts Byrne's proposed meeting date of 4 April 1938, does not comment on Byrne's 25 March mention of preliminary vs. demonstration NCM
1938 April 4 Preliminary conference, Washington, D.C. SY: 279
1938 April 9 John F. Byrne Captain J. M. Irish 1 Byrne proposes 3 May 1938 to give demonstration of Chaocipher, acknowledges/appreciates meeting with Ruble on 4 April 1938 NCM
1938 April 14 W.J. Ruble (by direction) John F. Byrne 1 Ruble accepts Byrne's proposed meeting date of 3 May 1938 for demonstration NCM
1938 May 3 Chaocipher demonstration, Washington, D.C.,  Commanders Wenger and Tucker attending. SY: 279 See letter from Rear Admiral (ret.) P.D. Tucker to David Kahn, dated 17 February 1968.  Tucker was present at Byrne's Navy demonstration, and gives a first-hand description of what happened.
1938 May 19 W.J. Ruble (by direction) John F. Byrne 1 Ruble returns blueprints provided by Byrne sent on 15 January 1938. NCM Ruble mentions a request from Byrne dated 7 May 1938 for the blueprint return.  No such letter found in Byrne files.  No mention made of 3 May 1938 meeting.
1940 December 23 Stephen Early, Secretary to the President of the U.S. John F. Byrne 1 Early refers to a letter sent by Byrne on 18 December 1940 with enclosed documents, not specifying what they are. He advises per the President, they are being presented to officials at the Navy Dept. NCM On the bottom of this letter, Byrne has hand-written "Dear Mr. Roosevelt, so far this is the only reaction[?] I have had in this matter.  Your's sincerely, JF Byrne".  'This' he has double-underlined.  The envelope from the White House is also in the the donated files.  The referred-to letter of 18 December 1940 was not in the donated Byrne files. 
1941 April 10 John F. Byrne William J. Chenery 3 Byrne writes to editor of Collier's Weekly, submits "Chaocipher - The Ultimate Elusion", Hitt supportive feedback, excerpts from "American Black Chamber", a letter from Col. Moorman, and a letter from the State Dept. Byrne wishes to write story of Chaocipher for Collier's.  Byrne states this story would be 'my swan song, perhaps' NCM Byrne notes letter from State Dept. dated 2 September 1921… no such letter found in Byrne files.  Also notes a letter from Moorman;  no date provided, unclear when received or what it stated. Only Moorman letter found in Byrne files is dated 26 August 1922.  No reply letter from Collier's found in Byrne files.
1941 April 24 John F. Byrne Editors of Saturday Evening Post 1 Byrne advises Collier's recommended he submit Chaocipher story to Saturday Evening Post, offers to demonstrate for them NCM In this letter, Byrne advises did get reply from Chenery (through Denver Lindley) recommending he submit to Saturday Evening Post.
1941 April 30 Editors of Saturday Evening Post John F. Byrne 1 Saturday Evening Post turns down Byrne's offer of the Chaocipher story NCM
1942 February 18 E.W. Adams, General Patent Attny, Bell Telephone Laboratories John F. Byrne 1 Agrees, per a conversation Byrne recently had with G.M. Campbell, for Byrne to demonstrate Chaocipher in near future (after 1 March) to a Bell Telephone Lab engineer NCM Campbell was a Patent Attorney for Bell Telephone Laboratories
1942 February 28 John F. Byrne E.W Adams 1 Byrne acknowledges Adams' letter of 18 February, wishes to discuss Bell's Terms & Conditions in greater detail.  Advises will call Adams on 3 March 1941 NCM
1942 March 3 Byrne meets (or has phone call) with G.M. Campbell of Bell Telephone Laboratories Letter of Adams to Byrne, 6 March 1942
1942 March 6 E.W. Adams John F. Byrne 1 Adams advises Byrne on question whether Bell Labs would file patent on his behalf, says it is not their practice to do so on behalf of outside applicants NCM Adams references discussion Byrne had with Campbell on 3 March 1942
1942 March 8 John F. Byrne E.W Adams 1 Byrne acknowledges Adams' letter of 6 March, offers to demonstrate Chaocipher and bring blueprints NCM
1942 March 11 E.W. Adams John F. Byrne 1 Adams advises Byrne will meet with Bell Telephone Lab engineer on 16 March 1942 in Campbell's office NCM The referenced Engineer is not named in the letter;  later letter of 12 May 1942 clarifies the Engineer as a Mr. Bacon (along with G.M. Campbell)
1942 March 14 1 Memorandum for Mr. G.M. Campbell (regarding forthcoming meeting) giving overview of presentation.  There are 2 copies of this memorandum in the donated file;  one (with photos linked) is a draft with Byrne’s notes. NCM At top of page, Byrne has an encircled 'B' as well as 'Continued'.  Byrne has also circled a paragraph and marked it 'Delete'; paragraph reads "Transmission and Reception of the matter of the document "Chaocipher - The Ultimate Elusion" as it stands would require 100% accuracy.  But I want it understood that my system can produce indecipherable cipher which would not require 100% accuracy either in transmission or reception".  In the other copy, this paragraph is not deleted.  Also at bottom of draft copy is note saying “P.S. I want to emphasize points that… [hard to make out his handwriting]"
1942 March John F. Byrne G. M. Campbell 1 GCMRF This is the same Memorandum as that of 14 March, but a different draft that includes the paragraph marked 'Delete' above… but instead has a double vertical line (the editors deletion mark) next to it.  The same P.S. is at the bottom is included and is here more legible.
1942 March 16 Byrne meets with G.M. Campbell and a Mr. Bacon, demonstrates Chaocipher principle and machine Letter of Adams to Byrne, 12 May 1942
1942 April 14 John F. Byrne E.W Adams 1 Byrne refers to demonstration occurring on 16 March 1942 and directs Adams to his 8 March 1942 letter and calls his attention to last paragraph and specifically last sentence. NCM Last paragraph of 8 March 1942 letter notes acknowledgment that Byrne would receive a 'definite answer' within 4 weeks.  Last sentence says "I have more than one reason for wanting to expedite matters".
1942 April 19 John F. Byrne E.W Adams 1 Acknowledging Adam's letter of 17 April 1942, Byrne agrees to pick up his Chaocipher machine from Campbell on 20 April 1942.  Byrne notes he has a lead in Radio to meet Sarnoff;  asks Adams for suggestion on how to approach this lead. NCM While Adam's letter of 17 April 1942 is referenced, this letter is not in the Byrne files.  Sarnoff referenced is likely David Sarnoff, executive at RCA.
1942 April 22 G.M. Campbell, Patent Attny, Bell Telephone Laboratories John F. Byrne 1 Campbell sending Byrne papers requested at 20 April 1942 meeting. NCM
1942 May 12 E.W Adams John F. Byrne 1 Adams refers to Byrne's meeting with G.M. Campbell and Mr. Bacon on 16 March 1942.  Advises Bell Telephone Lab not interested in Chaocipher. NCM
1942 May 19 John F. Byrne O.H. Reiter, VP of Development and Engineering at Teletype Corp 1 Byrne advises that Razelmond Parker of Bell Telephone recommended Byrne approach Teletype Corp about Chaocipher. Byrne includes copy of his 28 February 1942 letter to Bell Telephone as well as copy of memorandum NCM
1942 May 25 G.M. Campbell John F. Byrne 1 Campbell advises Byrne will meet with he and Mr. Parker on 29 May 1942;  does not state reason NCM Byrne letter of 19 May 1942, to the Teletype Corporation, notes the full name of Razelmond D. Parker in reference to an earlier meeting.
1 Preliminary Agreement with Reference to the Disclosure of an Unpatented Invention

1 page Agreement Plan for Bell Telephone, with Byrne's name entered as the Discloser, and the invention a 'Ciphering and Deciphering' apparatus
NCM Of note is that the originally entered invention name is 'Coding and Decoding Apparatus', but 'Coding' has been crossed out and 'Ciphering' hand-written above it;  likewise, 'Decoding' has been crossed out and 'Deciphering' hand-written above it.  This document is not signed, dated, or witnessed.
1942 June 3 John F. Byrne William F. Friedman 2 Byrne re-introduces himself to Friedman after nearly 20 years, sends him a copy of "Chaocipher - The Ultimate Elusion"  along with Plaintext.  Notes Bell Telephone recommended Byrne re-approach Friedman GCMRF, 
1942 June 5/6 (?) William F. Friedman Lt. Hiser 1 William F. Friedman    Lt. Hiser    1    Handwritten note by Friedman to Hiser, noting "We are in for a bit of razzing here, I'm afraid.  See what you can draw up by way of reply" GCMRF It's apparent Friedman had strong recollection of Byrne and earlier meetings (and, likely, Byrne's admonishments in letters of 1922)
1942 June 6 William F. Friedman John F. Byrne 1 WFF's reply to Byrne was most probably drafted by Lt. Hiser.  Advises Byrne that systems in place to evaluate submitted codes, notes Forms sent with letter for Byrne to follow/complete GCMRF, 
The referenced Forms were included in the donated Byrne files and are noted below.
4 War Dept - Office of the Chief Signal Officer - Washington

Information Regarding Cryptographic Systems Submitted for Consideration For Use in the Military Service
5 Navy Dept - Office of Chief of Naval Operations - Washington

Presentation of a Cryptographic System, Plan or Device to the Chief of Naval Operations (Communication Security Group) for an Examination to determine its merit for possible use in the Naval Service
NCM On Page 3 -5, Byrne (presumably) has made an 'x' next to several paragraphs including one where it mentions need to disclose the system, as well as request to provide all the relevant keys.
4 War Dept - Office of the Chief Signal Officer - Washington

Form to be used for the presentation of a cryptographic system, plan or device, to the Chief Signal Officer for an examination to determine its military value.
NCM In top-right corner of 1st page are the words "Enclosure B". At the bottom of page 4 is the date "June 19, 1940".  As there is no letter exchange from that period in the donated files, assumption is that this letter is part of the June 1942 enclosures.  Also the last page, an 'x' is marked next to a paragraph regarding the key needing to be the same for 20 submitted cryptograms.
1942 June 9 John F. Byrne William F. Friedman 1 Byrne notes Friedman's letter came w/a carbon copy, suspects Friedman didn't write it and requests his correspondence be with Friedman only.  Notes he sent "Chaocipher - The Ultimate Elusion", asks Friedman to answer question regarding its indecipherability GCMRF, 
1942 June 16 William F. Friedman John F. Byrne 1 Friedman notes he did receive Byrne's 3 June 1942 letter, then turned it over to division which handles such inquiries.  Friedman notes he needs more data, submitted in method given to Byrne.  Cannot comment on "Chaocipher - The Ultimate Elusion" GCMRF, 
1942 June 16 H.B. Whitfield, Patent Attorney at Teletype Corporation John F. Byrne 1 Whitfield acknowledges Byrne's 19 May 1942 letter to A.H. Reiber, notes Teletype Corp would not be interested Chaocipher. NCM Byrne's 19 May 1942 letter is to O.H. Reiter, while Whitfield notes his name as A.H. Reiber.  Unclear if Byrne mistaken/misspelled name, or if error by Whitfield.
1942 June 22 John F. Byrne Colonel Parker Hitt 1 Byrne re-introduces himself to Hitt after 4 years, notes prior sending of "Chaocipher - The Ultimate Elusion", and offer to write again but 'various circumstances, including my own very ill health' prevented him doing so.  References recent Bell Telephone experience, offers to discuss Chaocipher more if Hitt willing. NCM If Hitt ever replied, that letter is not part of donated Byrne files.
1951 August 10 Laurence E. Bunker, Colonel, Aide-de-Camp John F. Byrne 1 Acknowledges Byrne's two letters to Gen. Macarthur dated 25 June 1942 and 31 July 1942, expresses appreciation but also notes pressure too great to explore in greater interest at this time. NCM The two referenced letters of 25 June 1942 and 31 July 1942 are not in the Byrne files.  Though not explicitly stated, assumption is that both pertained to an offer by Byrne to demonstrate Chaocipher.
1953/1954 (?) N/A William F. Friedman 2 Notes on a railroad diner card about his proposed speech GCMRF
1954 January 12 John Byrne John F. Byrne 2 John Byrne informs his Dad of meeting Howard Smith (of Standard Oil) and his colleague Howard Lewis; they were interested in promoting Chaocipher principle and machine.  Tentative agreement outlined in letter.  John finds them 'capable and trustworthy'. NCM John Byrne signs the letter 'Your loving son, Jack'.
1954 January  24 Howard Smith John F. Byrne 2 Smith introduces himself to Byrne, offers to play a letter-game of blindfold chess.  Discusses his enthusiasm for Chaocipher, notes Patent challenges but nothing insurmountable. NCM Howard refers to John Byrne as 'Jack' in this letter, and also spells Chaocipher as Chaocypher.
1954 January 25 Howard Lewis John F. Byrne 1 Lewis introduces himself to Byrne, notes motivation of making money as well as thrill of working with something new. NCM Lewis refers to John Byrne as 'Jack' in this letter, and also spells Chaocipher as Chaocypher.
1954 February 11 John F. Byrne Howard Smith 1 Byrne replies to Smith, with a copy of letter for Lewis.  Byrne notes need to get together, work out agreement, and to demonstrate Chaocipher machine and principle to Lewis & Smith.  Asks if they can come east for a meeting. NCM Byrne also refers to his son as 'Jack' in the letter
1954 February 15 Helen Herbert Peck William F. and Elizebeth Friedman 1 Peck informs the Friedmans of a confirmed speaking date regarding James Joyce at the American Association of University Women on 3 March 1954.  Asks Friedman to speak on "Silent Years", in which he was referenced. GCMRF
1954 March 2 Helen Herbert Peck William F. and Elizebeth Friedman 1 Peck sends the Friedmans the proposed agenda for the Joyce presentation. GCMRF In this 2nd letter, Peck addresses the letter to 'Liza and Liam', suggesting a strong personal friendship.
1954 March 2 Howard Smith John F. Byrne 2 Smith advises he and Lewis unable to come east to meet with Byrne at this time, but believes John Byrne able to educate them both on Chaocipher for present need.  Includes formal agreement for J.F. Byrne to sign/return to put business relationship into action. NCM Byrne has highlighted in left-margin several passages of importance (to him)
1954 March 3 2 Formal Agreement between Lewis, Smith, and Byrne NCM Agreement gives Byrne 60% and Lewis/Smith 40% of any received revenue.  Donated agreement is a notarized iteration, though unsigned by Byrne.  Lewis & Smith's signature on Page 2 are visible through the Notarization paper, stapled over it.  In agreement, Chaocipher is spelled 'Chaocypher'.
1954 March 7 John F. Byrne Howard Smith 2 Byrne acknowledges agreement as well written. Disputes Smith/Lewis assertion that John Byrne could demonstrate Chaocipher for them as 1) He does not have the machine, and 2) Byrne himself could not decipher even 'one word' unless he had his notes handy. Byrne suggests Toy market as likely first market to pursue, and also that despite his poor health he will come out west to ensure their understanding. NCM Byrne notes reason for his desire to get together soon:  "I have an aneurism of the descending aorta" and also suffers from "spastic intestinal condition".  Byrne also asks that spelling in Agreement be changed to "Chaocipher" instead of "Chaocypher".
1954 March 13 8 Friedman's speech  about John F. Byrne's "Silent Years" GCMRF
1954 March 14 Howard Smith John F. Byrne 1 Smith acknowledges Byrne's letter of 7 March 1954, and that he and Lewis re-read recommended Silent Years passages per Byrne's request.  Looks for Byrne to notify them when he plans to travel so they can meet. NCM
1954 March 21 John F. Byrne Howard Smith 1 Byrne advises will be leaving for Alameda, CA on Sunday, 21 March 1954, will contact Smith & Lewis upon arrival. NCM
1954 April 9 1 Formal Agreement between Lewis, Smith, and Byrne for Byrne to explain and demonstrate Chaocipher for Lewis and Smith.  Includes confidentiality clause for Lewis and Smith. NCM Lewis, Smith, and Byrne have all signed this Agreement.
1957 January 29 John F. Byrne William F. Friedman Byrne's initial letter to WFF in 1957 (inferred by WFF's reply on 6 February) HRC (on order)
1957 February 6 William F. Friedman John F. Byrne 1 WFF's reply to Byrne's previous letter (reproduced by permission of the Harry Ransom Center) HRC
1957 February 17 John F. Byrne William F. Friedman 1 Byrne comments on feedback in Friedman's letter of 6 February, also goes on record stating "... my main reason for writing the book was to be on record in the matter of my "Chaocipher" ".  Byrne pointedly asks Friedman if he agrees Chaocipher is indecipherable, offers to send him plaintext of "Exhibit #4", noting it contains instructions for decipherment. GCMRF
1957 February 28 John F. Byrne William F. Friedman 1 GCMRF
1957 March 3 William F. Friedman John F. Byrne 1 Friedman replies to Byrne, advises will make no attempt at solving Exhibit #4, not because he feels he can't do it, but because it would serve no purpose.  Informs Byrne 'hand-ciphers' are passe, no government would be interested.  Also advises belief that Chaocipher is not indecipherable, and suggests Byrne's algorithm has been 'thought of before' by Engineers in previous GCMRF
1958 June 1 John F. Byrne Herbert O. Yardley 3 Byrne's 3 page letter to Yardley spends the first page recounting a story about playing poker, then he transitions to real reason for his letter: Cryptanalysis and Chaocipher.  After a recount of Poe and Yardley's statements regarding an undecipherable cipher, Byrne offers to demonstrate Chaocipher for Yardley. HRC, NCM All 3 pages of this letter are a copy;  the last page has a 'wrinkle' over a portion of the text (though still readable).
1958 June 24 John F. Byrne Herbert O. Yardley 1 Byrne begins letter by nearly insulting Yardley over his response regarding Poker.  Byrne then refers to Yardley's reply "I am no longer interested in codes and ciphers" feedback, again with incredulity.  Byrne then again poses Chaocipher for Yardley to consider. HRC, NCM Byrne refers to Yardley's reply of 8 June 1958 to his own 1 June 1958 letter;  the 8 June 1958 letter was not found in the donated Byrne files.
1968 February 17 Rear Admiral (ret.) Dundas Preble Tucker David Kahn 1 P. D. Tucker was one of the people present at Byrne's Chaocipher presentation in Washington D.C. on 3 May 1938.  In a letter to David Kahn following publication of "The Codebreakers", Tucker gives a first-person description of what transpired at the meeting. NCM
2005 March 27 Lou Kruh John Byrne 1 Kruh informs John Byrne of pending sale (or shutdown) of Cryptologia by end of 2006, reminds him of 1990 meeting with he and Cy Deavours and their Article.  Suggests to John now (2005) may be opportune time to reveal full Chaocipher story to appreciative audience. NCM The Kruh/John Byrne correspondence is by email (rather than hand-written or typed letters)
2005 April 4 John Byrne Lou Kruh 1 John Byrne notes been thinking of Chaocipher of late, has re-read Silent Years, Cryptologia article, and Greg Mellen's 1979 paper.  Advises considering selling/auctioning Chaocipher materials on eBay, asks Lou for his thoughts/help towards doing so. NCM John notes re-reading his letters to Greg Mellen "...of which I am belatedly more than ashamed."
2005 April 5 Lou Kruh John Byrne 1 Kruh notes if sold on eBay could get money… but "Chao is gone forever".  Suggests possible donation to National Cryptologic Museum, or possibly another museum. NCM Kruh notes has sent Cy Deavours a note encouraging him to get involved.
2005 June 21 John Byrne Lou Kruh 1 John Byrne apologizes for late reply, advising found Kruh's 5 April letter in the trash.  Advises spoke with sister, Phila, who agreed that if Chaocipher materials donated to NCM "…our father would endeavor to reassemble his ashes and wreck havoc if I (we) donated it to anything at all... most particularly to anything even remotely connected with the National Security Agency".  John advises will likely pursue eBay option, and conveys he doesn't really care what happens to Chaocipher materials. NCM John advises sister Phila is currently ill, was away visiting her.
2005 June 21 Lou Kruh John Byrne 1 Kruh informs John that NSA is a very different organization than it was many years ago, relates his own dealings with them and how they've changed.  Advises that if John decides to sell Chaocipher materials on eBay, to let Lou know as he may "push the bid a little higher". NCM

Copyright (c) 2009-2013 Moshe Rubin, All Rights Reserved.
Created: 24 September 2009
Last updated: 31 October 2015

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