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Cryptography has had one main purpose: to code and hide messages. Through history, people made secret codes and keys to write their messages in to keep them secret. Cryptanalysis experts today are still finding out what many of those secrets today. Cryptography has affected the way we live greatly through the history of World War II, Caesar ciphers, and a select number of students, who put their own "twist" on what they learned.
What exactly is "cryptography?" Cryptography is "1. the art of writing or deciphering messages in code 2. the system used in a code of cipher" (Neufeldt, 334). When it comes to talking about World War II, both definitions will come into play, and will turn the history around with two events: Pearl Harbor, and the invention of the Enigma in Germany, both ultimately leading up to World War II.
The bombing of Pearl Harbor occurred December 7, 1941, when Japan attacked the United States. A Japanese spy by the name of Takeo Yoshikawa, who at first was taking training to become a naval officer, took and improved his English skills over many years and began to learn about the United States Navy. Later, in 1941, he became a diplomat for Oahu, telling the Japanese military about the size and strength of the United States Navy, who were, at the moment, stationed at Pearl Harbor. Pearl Harbor was an important military base for the United States, containing the Pacific fleet of the United States Navy. While Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto and the Japanese military drew plans to attack Pearl Harbor, Japanese government representatives were sent over seas to negotiate a peace agreement with the United States. The agreement was ultimately decided on nothing. The United States didn't want Japan to go to war and take over other Asian nations, but Japan disagreed. "The final decision for war was made. However, they did not formally tell Americans they were ending the negotiations until after the attack had already begun" (Anthony, Gardener, 21, 22). On December 1, 1941, Japanese representatives returned to Japan, and on December 2, 1941, Admiral Yamamoto radioed "'Climb Mount Niitaka 1208'--the code words for 'Proceed with Attack' at midnight on December 8 (Japan time) (Anthony, Gardener, 22). Pearl Harbor was attacked, starting World War II. However, "Climb Mount Niitaka 1208" wasn't the only code that was sent out. The attack on Pearl Harbor ultimately started World War II.
During this time, a version of the Enigma, called "Purple", and code-named "Magic," was used by Japan to send out secret messages world-wide. The Enigma, in the early 1918, was originally thought of and created in Germany by a man named Arthur Scherbius. His idea for the device was to "allow businesses to communicate confidential documents without having to resort to clumsy and slow codebooks" (Momsen, 2, http://home.earthlink.net/~nbrass1/1enigma.htm). The device consisted of a number of rotors (which contained numbers one through twenty-six), thumbwheels attached to each rotor above the front panel that the rotors could be seen through, and each rotor was equipped with twenty-six electrical contacts (one for each letter in the alphabet) on each side. Wires were attached to each of the contacts, and they were connected "randomly" to the other side of contacts. The Enigma resembled a typewrite in a way. When one of the twenty-six electrical contacts were pressed, an electric current traveled through the wires connected to the contacts. The output largely depended on how the rotors were set and how the contacts were hooked up wire-wise. The Enigma, at first, was not a success. In 1918, he offered his idea to the German Navy, but the military rejected him. Scherbius continued to improve his idea, creating new plans for new models, adding a rotor, or even several rotors, to the Enigma. Adding rotors increased the number of combinations that could be used/made to code a message.
Bill Momsen, author of Codebreaking and Secret Weapons in World War II, describes how the Enigma worked. "The first rotor turned 1/26 of a revolution each time a letter key was pressed. Thus, inputting the letter 'a' might be encoded as any one of the twenty-six letters, depending on the rotor wiring and starting position. Typing in a text consisting of nothing but 'a' would result n a string of twenty-six garbled letters, until the rotor returned to the starting position, when the strng of garbled letters repeated exactly" (Momsen, 2, http://home.earthlink.net/~nbrass1/1enigma.htm). It continued on from there. With two rotors, transposition would occur after 26 x 26, which was 676 letters. You would multiply twenty-six by the number of rotors. Later, the rotors on the device were both modified and improved to be able to be removed from the machine.
After the modifications, the Enigma was a success. Machines were used for not only the German military, but also for the United States (they bought a commercial Enigma in 1927) and Japan, who purchased an Enigma from Berlin. After several modifications, Japan's Foreign Office adopted this machine for government and military use, and after more improvements, the Enigma became the famous machine, "Purple." Germany also began to make several modifications to their Enigma(s), and during World War II, the Enigma started its role. Messages on where to attack when were sent out from Germany and Japan, both declaring war on surrounding countries; Japan on China, taking over some of the land, and Germany on Russia, Britain, France, and the United States.
The only trouble with the Enigma at the time, though, was transposing the encrypted message to the plaintext, or original message. To do that, people working the Enigma needed to have a key, and the receiver to needed to have the same key. Otherwise, the message would be unable to be cracked. "There were so many possible alternatives and combinations that without the right key, a cryptanalyst would be lost" (Lewin, 11). However, due to the help of a German traitor and Polish cryptanalysts, the German Enigma was able to be replicated, and the codes cracked, "which shortened World War II considerably" (http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/factsheets/factsheet.asp?id=9722). With this important knowledge on cracking German codes, winning was on the side of the United States. Cryptanalysts were also able to solve the Japanese codes. "American experts named the Japanese code 'Purple,' and they called intelligence from these messages 'Magic.' Unfortunately, the 'Purple' diplomatic code did not provide specific military information, so Americans had no advance knowledge of the Pearl Habor attack" (http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/factsheets/factsheet.asp?id=9722). Without the help of our allied forces and cryptanalysts, World War II would have gone on much longer than it had in the past, and the casualty rate...much higher.
There are many other types of coding and different types of ciphers, one of the simplest being the Caesar cipher. The Caesar cipher is also known as "the shift cipher," but it's most commonly known as the Caesar cipher. What the cipher consists of is twenty-six letters of the alphabet, and a shift of three either to the left or the right in the alphabet. Let's say we want to do a shift to the right, and we started with the letter "a." The letter being substituted for "a" would be "d" because all that's being done is the alphabet is being shifted to the right three letters. The same situation goes for when the alphabet is being shifted to the left.
Cryptography occurred daily in a classroom over the summer. Students entered the classroom their first day of class, and were already on the ball. Within the first week, they'd learned how to put their own little twist on the Caesar cipher. They would create a key, a plaintext message, encrypt it, and hand it to another student or group and have them transpose it. Keys would be shifting the alphabet twelve letters instead of three. Another twist that students put into their learning of cryptography was by coding messages into matrices. The students created a message in plaintext, used the Caesar cipher to shift their message however many letters, and then change the letters into numbers one through twenty-six. Afterwards, the message was put into a matrix (most ot the time being lined up two letters per column), multiplied by an invertible two by two matrix for the key, and the first two numbers in the column would be the number of shift once the key was inverted and the numbers obtained and changed back to letters. The plaintext would lay right before them as they solved a mystery.
Through the many years of cryptography, the way we live could have been quite altered. World War II could have lasted much longer than it did, with much higher casualties, and even back before Christ was born, without cryptography, the world would be missing many of the mysteries that we have today. Even in a classroom of students over the summer, cryptography drew both awe and made an impact on how we live. Through coded messages, whether practiced or not, cryptography has impacted our lives through mystery and war.