When did cryptography begin

Cryptology, cryptography and cryptanalysis

History of cryptology

Cryptology does not play an insignificant role over time. Cryptography obscured forbidden loves, sophisticated battle plans and much more. Nobody knows when exactly cryptography was invented or used for the first time. However, certain findings can be used to draw conclusions. Therefore, a small time table with stations of cryptography and cryptanalysis across history is to be recorded here.

Ca.1900 BC Chr.
Around 1900 BC Egyptian scribes used special hieroglyphics for the inscriptions of a royal tomb, this is the first cryptography documented in writing. It is not yet known whether other peoples used cryptography before the ancient Egyptians.

600-500 BC Chr.
During this period, Hebrew scholars used simple character exchange algorithms. For example, one of these character exchange algorithms is Atbash encryption, which was used around 600 BC. Was used in Palestine.

400 BC Chr.
The Greeks encrypted it in 400 BC. Their messages with the so-called Skytala (wooden stick). For example, the Greek general Lysander of Sparta was delivered an encrypted message from a servant, which became legible when he wrapped the message over the Skytala.

4th century BC Chr.
In the Kamasutra, women are recommended to study 64 arts in order to be a "perfect wife". In addition to arts such as cooking, clothing, massage, chess or carpet weaving, this also includes the art of secret writing. You should learn the art of secret writing to keep affairs secret. In order to turn plain text into ciphertext, substitution, i.e. replacing each letter with another, is suggested.

170 BC Chr.
The ancient Greek historian Polybius developed the Polybius tablet. With the Polybius board, letters can be converted into numeric characters.

50-60 BC Chr.
The Caesar cipher, which is still well known today, is used for the first time by the great Roman general Gaius Julius Caesar. As with Atbasch, the Caesar cipher was a monoalphabetic substitution. You shifted a letter of the alphabet by a certain distance. Caesar himself often used the key C, i.e. shifting the alphabet by three letters. The Roman Emperor Augustus is also said to have used the Caesar encryption, but probably because of the name, he only shifted one letter, i.e. the key A.

From AD 750
In the “golden age” of Islamic culture, cryptography is used extensively. In addition to the use of cryptography, the Arabs invented cryptanalysis at this time in order to be able to be sure that their cryptographic procedures are secure.

While the Arab culture at that time, from a cryptographic point of view, performed at its best, exactly the opposite was found in Europe during the Middle Ages. Only monks in the monasteries pursued the study of the secret scripts while they searched for hidden meanings in the Bible. For example, the Old Testament intentionally contained easily see-through cryptographic elements. So in Jeremiah 25:26 and 51:41 the word Babel was replaced by the word Scheschach. The word was encrypted with the Atbasch encryption:

Jeremiah 25:26:
“All the kings of the north, those near and those in the distance, one like the other all the kingdoms of the world, as many of them are on earth. And the king of Sheschach shall drink to them.

Jeremiah 51:41
How did Sheschess fall and capture those who are famous all over the world! How did Babylon become an image of horror among the Gentiles!


It is assumed that Altbasch and other “simple” ciphers “should only give the Bible a mysterious aura” and not hide words, but this was enough to arouse interest in cryptography. Soon they began to deal more intensively with cryptography.

13th century AD
The English Franciscan monk, philosopher and mathematician Roger Bacon wrote the first known European work on cryptography under the name: Letter on the Secret Works of Art and the Nullity of Magic. In it he describes several procedures for keeping messages secret. "

15th century AD
The heyday of European cryptography. Courtyards acquired their own cryptographic services.

1500 AD
The Voynich manuscript was written around 1500. It is written in an unknown script that is believed not to be a natural language. Although it is assumed that encryption is present, it has not yet been resolved. The latest research is based on a meaningless sequence of letters.

1506 AD
Giovanni Soro is appointed secret secretary of Venice and is considered the first great cryptanalyst. Thanks to his reputation, he receives intercepted messages from all over Italy to be decrypted, including from Pope Clements VII in 1526.

September 20, 1586 AD
Execution of the Babington conspirators. This was preceded, among other things, by encrypted messages between the conspirators and Maria Stuart.

End of the 16th century
France begins to consolidate its leading role in cryptanalysis

17th century
Era of the black chambers, i.e. places where encrypted messages were intercepted and copied in order to then forward them to the responsible cryptanalysts.

1795 AD
With the Jefferson disk / wheel cypher, Thomas Jefferson invents the first encryption cylinder. The device was not really known, so it was reinvented a century by Commander Etienne Bazeries. The Bazeries Cylinder was used in the US Army from 1923 to 1942.

1854 AD
Charles Babbage is the first to succeed in deciphering a Vigenère cipher.

1883 AD
The treatise "La Cryptographie militaire" by Auguste Kerckhoffs von Nieuwendhoff appears.

1917 AD
Development of the "one-time pad" by the American Gilbert S. Vernam. The implementation followed by Joseph O. Mauborgne, who was also the namesake.

1918 AD
The German electrical engineer Arthur Scherbius invents the first Enigma.

1940 AD
Alan Turing cracks the Enigma after preliminary work by Marian Rejewski with his idea of ​​the "bombs".

1967 AD
With "The Codebreakers - The Story of Secret Writing", David Kahn published a book that was soon to be regarded as the standard (English-language) work on the history of cryptography.

1976 AD
Diffie and Hellman publish their essay New Directions in Cryptography. In it they described the Diffie-Hellman key exchange, which has now been named after them.

1977 A.D.
Publication of the asymmetric cryptographic procedure RSA, the name of which is derived from the first letters of the family names of the three developers Rivest, Shamir and Adleman.

1991n. Chr.
Phil Zimmermann publishes the first version of his encryption program under the name Pretty Good Privacy, or PGP for short.

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