That’s Herbert The Education of a Poker Player O’Yardley!
On the National Security Agency’s site, there is a timeline dedicated to the most significant events in cryptologic history. Among its many entries: November 4, 1952, the day the NSA itself was created; December 7, 1941, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor; and the earliest event that is commemorated, the U.S. State Department’s decision to hire a 23-year-old Indiana native, Herbert O. Yardley, on November 16, 1912, just prior to the outbreak of World War I.
An ambitious young man with a background as a railroad telegraph operator, Yardley quickly showed a talent for breaking codes. After proving himself able to decipher an ostensibly secret message to President Woodrow Wilson, he decided to spend his career improving the security of U.S. government communications. Soon after, he began breaking the codes of other governments in anticipation of war. He would ultimately spy on the communications of foreigners and U.S. citizens in peacetime, and head a secret surveillance agency headquartered in a New York City brownstone.
But Yardley wasn’t just the progenitor of the trade practiced at the NSA today. He was also the surveillance state’s first betrayer, as loathed by insiders in his day as Edward Snowden is in ours.
Read more. [Image: NSA]