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Milestone-Nomination:Invention of Public-key Cryptography

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== Proposed citation in English  ==
 
== Proposed citation in English  ==
  
Invention of Public-key Cryptography, 1969-1975  
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<p>Invention of Public-key Cryptography, 1969-1975 </p>
  
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At GCHQ, by 1975 James Ellis had proved that a symmetric secret-key system is unnecessary and Clifford Cocks&nbsp;with Martin Williamson&nbsp;showed how such 'public-key cryptography' could be achieved. Until then it was believed that secure communication was impossible without exchange of a secret key, with key distribution a major impediment. With these discoveries the essential principles were known&nbsp;but were&nbsp;kept secret until 1997.  
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<p>At GCHQ, by 1975 James Ellis had proved that a symmetric secret-key system is unnecessary and Clifford Cocks&nbsp;with Malcolm Williamson&nbsp;showed how such 'public-key cryptography' could be achieved. Until then it was believed that secure communication was impossible without exchange of a secret key, with key distribution a major impediment. With these discoveries the essential principles were known&nbsp;but were&nbsp;kept secret until 1997. </p>
  
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== Historic significance of this work: its importance to the evolution of electrical and computer engineering and science and its importance to regional/national/international development.  ==
 
== Historic significance of this work: its importance to the evolution of electrical and computer engineering and science and its importance to regional/national/international development.  ==

Latest revision as of 12:40, 5 May 2010


Docket Number: 2008-15

Proposal Link: http://www.ieeeghn.org/wiki/index.php/Milestone-Proposal:Invention_of_Public-key_Cryptography

Proposed citation in English

Invention of Public-key Cryptography, 1969-1975


At GCHQ, by 1975 James Ellis had proved that a symmetric secret-key system is unnecessary and Clifford Cocks with Malcolm Williamson showed how such 'public-key cryptography' could be achieved. Until then it was believed that secure communication was impossible without exchange of a secret key, with key distribution a major impediment. With these discoveries the essential principles were known but were kept secret until 1997.



Historic significance of this work: its importance to the evolution of electrical and computer engineering and science and its importance to regional/national/international development.

Historical significance and supporting material documentation is attached. 

What features or characteristics set this work apart from similar achievements?

The research was carried out in complete secrecy at GCHQ and could not be revealed until it was decided that no further benefit to national security could be achieved by not revealing it. Like the cryptanalysis done during World War 2 at Bletchley Park (now an IEEE Historical Milestone site, since March 2003), the significance of the work was available for public assessment only long after the research was actually carried out. The work by Diffie & Hellman at Stanford and by Rivest, Shamir & Adleman at MIT was published later.

Please attach a letter in English, or with English translation, from the site owner giving permission to place IEEE milestone plaque on the property.

The letter is necessary in order to process your nomination form. Click the Attachments tab to upload your letter.

HISTORICAL_Significance.doc
SUPPORTING_Material_for_GCHQ_PKC_Invention.doc
GCHQ_FMO_Authorisation_Letter_for_PKC_Invention_IEEE_Milestone.doc