A Fresh Take: The National Cryptologic Museum

November 21, 2022

By Riley Hoaglin

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Exciting news! We have a NEWLY RENOVATED museum that just REOPENED!

Have you ever wonder what Cryptologic means? Or how coding has shaped history?
The National Cryptologic Museum reopened just a few weeks ago, and it is filled with historical technology that has revolutionized the world. Cryptology is the study of codes and ciphers, and the National Cryptologic Museum is the best place to learn more about the exciting history of coding and decoding!

The National Cryptologic Museum (NCM), curated by the National Security Administration (NSA), is “a gateway to the public and educates visitors about the role of cryptology in shaping history.” The NCM showcases exclusive artifacts while sharing the ground-breaking history to which coding and decoding has contributed.

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When walking into the museum you will be given a map that helps guide you through the exhibits. One of my favorite computers in the museum was the FROSTBURG, which is a massive parallel-processing computer. The computer was designed in collaboration with artists and scientists, meaning that the extensive flashing red lights on the front are purely cosmetic. The computer is massive and definitely catches the eye!

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One of the older artifacts that caught my interested was “The Spark.” Manufactured by the Germans, and used by the German Army, The Spark was used for high-level communications. The machine encrypted and decrypted messages. It was more complex than the Enigma machine the Germans had developed, making it more difficult to decode their messages.

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The NCM has extensive decoding/coding inventory that showcases artifacts that were directly involved with significant events in American history. To understand the complexities of cryptology and the evolution of technology, you truly should see it for yourself! The NCM is open Tuesday through Saturday and is it FREE to the public.

The National Cryptologic Museum is an impressive and engaging museum that shines a bright light on coding, decoding and ciphering. This is an experience that should not be missed, so make plans to visit soon!