Japan's PURPLE Code Machine

Steve Harrison ko0u at OS.COM
Sun Jul 5 20:23:27 EDT 1998

At 12:20 AM 07/05/98 -1000, Jeffrey Herman wrote:
>I don't usually read the obituaries, but the following was in
>very large type which caught my eye. It talks about the person who
>broke Japan's PURPLE Code. Like everyone else, I've heard of Germany's
>Enigma and the effort to break it, but this was the first I'd heard of the
>PURPLE machine. Can anyone provide some info?
>Jeff KH2PZ
>P.S. I hope crypto BAs aren't off topic for this list; they were
>periodically discussed on the other BA list...
>   Frank B. Rowlett, a premier U.S. cryptographer whose solution to
>a major Japanese cipher machine saved hundreds of American lives during
>WWII, died yesterday of heart failure in Gaithersburg, MD. He was 90.

During the early 1990's, I read a book that I checked out of a public
library in Northern Virginia, either in Sterling Park or Annandale, I don't
remember which, about Frank Rowlett and his group of cryptoanalysts. The
book was titled something like "The Cryptoanalysts" or "The Code Breakers",
and it concentrated upon the establishment and accomplishments of the
cryptoanalysis department with Rowlett as its central figure, as I recall.
I believe the book was probably published in the mid-1970's. Try looking in
the card catalogs under Cryptoanalysis". The book was very engrossing and

73, Steve Ko0U/1

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