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If not for a computer scientist’s hobby of collecting old telegraph codebooks, a crucial chapter in modern cryptography might have been lost to history.
The collector is Steven M. Bellovin, a professor of computer science at the Columbia University School of Engineering and a former computer security researcher at AT&T Bell Laboratories. On a recent trip to Washington he found himself with a free afternoon and decided to spend it at the Library of Congress, looking for codebooks that weren’t in his collection.