Far too many news and magazine articles focus on the trivial or the trite when when stories that should matter, stories that shape the very fabric of our lives, go unnoticed, unappreciated, and where true heroes go unrewarded.
So too goes the story of a native South Carolinian, former Navy man, cryptographer and all around decent guy, Morse Morseman. A name you might never have heard of, and a face you wouldn't take a second look at, Morseman remains a happy and well hidden tick on the butt of your favorite canine, existing not to really cause any trouble or to draw any attention to himself. Morse Morseman. Man of integrity, wit, honor, and humility, but also a man who almost single handedly shaped the nature of data encryption, protecting our country's sensitive information from our enemies both foreign and domestic.
As a boy, Morseman used to play heavily with his favorite Christmas presents, an Erector set and a physics book. Strange kid, that Morseman, but he quickly mastered basic pivoting lever construction and electromagnetic contacts. Without instruction, Morseman had created his first Morse code receiver and transmitter using nothing more than a spool of his mother's green florist wire, some erector set pieces and a 6 volt hobby battery. He also discovered that by alternating the current quickly and adding weight to the lever, a rudimentary vibrator was born. No word on what Morseman may have used that particular device for.
Morseman flourished as a mathematician and cunning linguist in high school, managing to keep himself one notch above pure geekdom on the social ladder, but applying what he had learned into the development of early encryption algorithms. Almost as interested in sex, but not really, as he was in field of coded messaging, Morseman was recruited by the Navy to take over their signaling corp.
It was in the Navy where Morseman had created a nearly impenetrable coding technique, to be used in conjunction with a newly developed five point transmitter. Stepping onto the recently declassified device today, one gets a rare view into the difficulty it took to master such a transmitting device. The sender had to step into a cage with a touch pad at arm level for each hand, two more touch pads for both feet and a fifth touch pad affixed to the cage at the body's midpoint where contact could be made with the technician's fifth appendage. Only amply endowed sailors could be used for the Morseman transmitter. No country could interpret the code, or duplicate the complexity of the sending device until China replicated a stolen copy the device plans in 1983, though they were not able to completely operate all five points on the device.
Retired from the Navy, Morseman continued his service to the country by adapting his five point encryption code into a computer key to protect governmental files and electronic assets. Morseman's algorithm takes commercially available encryption limits and magnifies the security by a factor of five. With newly available 256 bit encryption on the market today, Morseman's algorithm makes the coded key five times more difficult to crack.
Today, Morseman lives a life of casual luxury with friends and family, unobtrusive and unassuming, and always ready for greeting his guests with a cold beer and a smile. Morse Morseman, unknown American Hero, mathematical genius, data encryption pioneer, and hung like a bull on steroids.