The Chaocipher Clearing House

Progress Report #21

Moshe Rubin (

It's been some time since the last Progress Report, so we'll try to recap the main Chaocipher-related news items.

Moshe Rubin publishes a Chaocipher-related paper in Cryptologia

A comprehensive paper entitled "John F. Byrne's Chaocipher Revealed: An Historical and Technical Appraisal" was published in the October 2011 issue of Cryptologia (volume 35 issue 4, pages 328 - 379).  Quoting from the abstract:

Chaocipher is a method of encryption invented by John F. Byrne in 1918, who tried unsuccessfully to interest the US Signal Corp and Navy in his system.  In 1953, Byrne presented Chaocipher-encrypted messages as a challenge in his autobiography Silent Years.  Although numerous students of cryptanalysis attempted to solve the challenge messages over the years, none succeeded. For 90 years, the Chaocipher algorithm was a closely guarded secret known only to a handful of persons. Following fruitful negotiations with the Byrne family during the period 20092010, the Chaocipher papers and materials have been donated to the National Cryptologic Museum in Ft. Meade, MD. This paper presents a comprehensive historical and technical evaluation of John F. Byrne and his Chaocipher system.

A draft copy of the entire article can be downloaded from this site.

Patricia Byrne, John F. Byrne's daughter-in-law, passes away at age 92

Patricia Byrne, John F. Byrne's daughter-in-law, and the person who donated the entire Chaocipher archives to the National Cryptologic Museum, passed away on January 24, 2012 at age 92.  Pat, who had a prolific career as an American operatic soprano and musical theatre actress from the mid-1940s to the 1970s as Patricia Neway, was married to John F. Byrne's son, John.  When John passed away in 2008, Pat was the sole possessor of John F. Byrne's archive of Chaocipher-related papers, correspondences, and models.

Following negotiations with the National Cryptologic Museum, Pat magnanimously donated the entire Chaocipher archive to the museum, thus ensuring that John F. Byrne's Chaocipher legacy will not be lost to future scholars and researchers.

Here are some references to information about this special woman:

Patricia Neway (Wikipedia)
Patricia Neway, Operatic Soprano Who Won a Tony, Dies at 92 (New York Times)
Patricia Neway receiving the 1960 Tony Award for best featured actress in a musical (YouTube)

Copyright (c) 2012-2019 Moshe Rubin
Created: 27 April 2012
Last updated: 25 October 2019

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