De Beveiliging van Overheidsberichten
1945 - 1970
Author: M.R. (Maarten) Oberman
Layout: 260 pages, full colour, hard cover
This book describes the development of
cipher machines in The Netherlands
in the post-WWII era, between 1945 and 1970. These machines were developed
the author's father,
Professor R.M.M. (Roelof) Oberman,
at the time one of the leading scientists at the
Dr. Neher Laboratory
of the Dutch state-owned telecom provider PTT.
During WWII, the Duch Government in exile (in London) became
increasingly aware of the need to protect top secret communication.
After the war, Oberman
was selected to develop a secure cipher
machine for the Ministry of Defense and the Foreign Office.
The first machine was Colex,
a relay-based One-Time Tape cipher machine or mixer,
soon followed by a much faster electronic equivalent,
Ecolex, that was built with thermionic
valves (vacuum tubes). The Ecolex was
eventually succeeded by the fully transistorised
The book describes not only the events that led to the development
of the Colex, Ecolex and related equipment, but also the politics
behind it. It shows how the national telecom giant PTT gradually
lost interest in the crypto market, and how
Philips Usfa picked up
the pieces and developed new machines in its place.
left the PTT and became a Professor at the Technical
University of Delft (TU Delft), and how many of his former colleagues
Staatsgeheim, De Beveiliging van Overheidsberichten
(State Secret, Government Communications Security) is unique in that
it is the first book to describe the era after the
mechanical rotor-based cipher machines
and before software-based solutions.
The era of the unbreakable One-Time Pad (OTP)
and of cipher machines that were based on non-linear
feedback shift registers (NLFSR).
The book is based on Oberman's personal archive, complemented by
documents found in the Dutch National Archives and in the archives
of the Dutch General Intelligence Service AIVD,
most of which were still classified and have never been seen by
the public before.
➤ Order the book directly from the author
In 2015, the author – Maarten Oberman – donated the circuit diagrams
of the first Dutch OTT
— to Crypto Museum,
after which we asked him to write a brief biography of his father,
Professor R.M.M. (Roelof) Oberman
for our website. But when going
through Oberman's personal archive, there appeared to be so many
interesting new facts, that a brief biography wouldn't do justice
to the man's interesting and secret past. This book is the highly
— Crypto Museum, 2023
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