Feeds

Top WWII code cracker dies

Leo Marks - special ops and Peeping Tom author

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

The essential guide to IT transformation

Leo Marks, WWII codemaker and codebreaker, and later playwright, has died aged 80.

He was chief cryptographer of Special Operations Executive during WWII, having trained as a cryptographer in Bedford when called up for National Service.

During his training, The Telegraph reports, he cracked a code that was supposed to be a week-long group project, in an evening. This earned him the label "misfit" and got him sent to the Special Operations Executive, rather than Bletchley Park.

One of his achievements during the war was to refine the "one-time-pad." He printed ciphers on silk squares so agents could carry the information more easily across borders. He also stopped the use of well known poems as code keys, replacing them with original works he wrote himself, massively tightening security.

Later in the war he was in charge of devising encryption systems for the SAS and the Free French, among others.

He was born in London on September 24, 1920. He was an only child and spent much of his time with his father in the family bookshop at 84 Charring Cross Road.

There, he became interested in both encryption and horror writing when he was eight, after reading Edgar Allen Poe's "The Gold Bug."

The interest sparked in horror culminated in him writing the film "Peeping Tom," a film so disturbing that it ruined the career of its director.

His obituary appears in full in The Telegraph. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
Apple promises to lift Curse of the Drained iPhone 5 Battery
Have you tried turning it off and...? Never mind, here's a replacement
Mozilla's 'Tiles' ads debut in new Firefox nightlies
You can try turning them off and on again
Linux turns 23 and Linus Torvalds celebrates as only he can
No, not with swearing, but by controlling the release cycle
Scratched PC-dispatch patch patched, hatched in batch rematch
Windows security update fixed after triggering blue screens (and screams) of death
This is how I set about making a fortune with my own startup
Would you leave your well-paid job to chase your dream?
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.