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Author Topic: Oldest known numbers station/History of numbers stations  (Read 235 times)

Offline Rizla

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Oldest known numbers station/History of numbers stations
« on: November 02, 2019, 2153 UTC »
So QST had a numbers station article in the last issue. They started their history with the Lincolnshire Poacher.

Of course there were the Enigma decodes in WW2, in fact I've heard the Germans got lazy and re-used their keys, which is how the UK hacked them.

Does anyone know what the earliest "traditional" numbers station was, using one-time pads or other cyphers?

I would guess it goes back to the telegraph... I said in another thread that Amundsen used a cypher to telegraph his message
after reaching the South Pole. I suppose we could go back as far as John Dee, or the Romans, but so far as telegraphs and radio,
anyone know the earliest? It would have to be pre-WW2. (?)
QTH: Sonoran Desert, AZ. Kenwood TS-820S, FT-891, Tecsun 880, neophyte in a forest of antenna wire.

Offline IZS4

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Re: Oldest known numbers station/History of numbers stations
« Reply #1 on: November 02, 2019, 2207 UTC »
Found this via Google-

In this technique, a plaintext is paired with a random secret key (also referred to as a one-time pad). ... First described by Frank Miller in 1882, the one-time pad was re-invented in 1917. On July 22, 1919, U.S. Patent 1,310,719 was issued to Gilbert Vernam for the XOR operation used for the encryption of a one-time pad.

Wikipedia has a longer write up on the subject also.

Offline Rizla

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Re: Oldest known numbers station/History of numbers stations
« Reply #2 on: November 03, 2019, 0121 UTC »
Cool, I'll have to look up Miller. I know Wiki has stuff but I figured people around here might know even more, much more...

The Enigma 2000 team would certainly have an opinion. Who was first? UK? Germans?

That book on USSR radio is another source I'll have to look at.

So, maybe not WW1. WW2?

I suppose it depends what one means by "numbers station." I know the classic ones are pretty much Cold War entities.
QTH: Sonoran Desert, AZ. Kenwood TS-820S, FT-891, Tecsun 880, neophyte in a forest of antenna wire.

Offline Josh

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Conveniently located near Vincennes Indiana.

Offline Rizla

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Re: Oldest known numbers station/History of numbers stations
« Reply #4 on: November 07, 2019, 2354 UTC »
Thank you very much indeed, Josh.

edit: What a masterpiece of intelligence service writing. A history of radio in warfare, Mr. Flicke's life work it would seem.


« Last Edit: November 08, 2019, 0045 UTC by Rizla »
QTH: Sonoran Desert, AZ. Kenwood TS-820S, FT-891, Tecsun 880, neophyte in a forest of antenna wire.