Over the last 100 years, women have had significant, high-level roles in breaking secret codes – from Nazi ciphers to the secret messages of Al Capone’s gang.
Over the last 100 years, women have been involved in code-breaking work like this in far deeper ways than has ever been acknowledged before. But their contributions are now beginning to be recognised thanks to the discovery of previously forgotten papers and interviews with the few surviving members of once-secret code-breaking enclaves.
On 10 October 2017, it is Ada Lovelace Day. Lovelace was a 19th Century mathematician who wrote algorithms for early computers designed by Charles Babbage. She also realised the potential future significance of computers in a way that Babbage did not. It seems a fitting time to also remember the women who applied code-cracking techniques by hand, long before cryptography became the preserve of computer scientists.