Lecture: The Evolution of Public Key Cryptography

Martin Hellman


While I love that public key cryptography is seen as revolutionary, after this talk you might wonder why it took Whit Diffie, Ralph Merkle and me so long to discover it. For example, Whit and I had been talking about trap door cryptosystems and it is a small step from that concept to public key cryptography. This talk will also highlight the contributions of some unsung (or “under-sung”) heroes: Ralph Merkle, John Gill, Stephen Pohlig, Richard Schroeppel, Loren Kohnfelder, and researchers at GCHQ (Ellis, Cocks, and Williamson).