Before Bitcoin Pt.3 — 90s “Cryptowars”

70s, 80s, 90s, 00s and the people behind the tech

Part Three’s Notes

Continuing on from the 80s

Bill Clinton and his crew trying to understand this knew trend known as the internet

Agent Baxter & the legendary Star Wars Defense Contractor: Autodesk

80s Print: Bill Gates on the Left, Kapor in the Middle
The Matrix taking inspiration from the usernames of the three teenagers

Beginning of the Electronic Frontier Foundation

“America was entering the Information Age with neither laws nor metaphors for the appropriate protection and conveyance of information itself.”

A Pretty Good Bill

“This was not a commercial product.

It was a human rights project”

May and Hughes, two very crazy individuals

The first meeting

“If the government can’t monitor you, it can’t control you…Politics has never given anyone lasting freedom, and it never will…”

The birth of the Cypherpunks

Second Meeting -- October 10, 1992
The second meeting will be held at the new Cygnus offices. Exact
address and directions to follow.
We do not have an exact agenda yet, but one should be arriving in the next few days. Please mark you calendars now and start telling your friends.For this meeting and until further announced, we are using a
transitive trust system for invitations. Invite anybody you want and let them invite anybody they want and so on.
The crypto-anarchy game we tried out at the first meeting was as good a success as we could have hoped for from an untested idea. The game seems useful and fun enough to warrant continued play and play testing, so we'll be playing again at this and future meetings. We observed several interesting emergent behaviors in the first
session, including resellers and reputation behaviors. We'll play a
two hour session this time and discuss it afterwards.
The cypherpunks list is a forum for discussion about technological
defenses for privacy in the digital domain.
Cypherpunks assume privacy is a good thing and wish there were more
of it. Cypherpunks acknowledge that those who want privacy must
create it for themselves and not expect governments, corporations, or other large, faceless organizations to grant them privacy out of
beneficence. Cypherpunks know that people have been creating their
own privacy for centuries with whispers, envelopes, closed doors, and couriers. Cypherpunks do not seek to prevent other people from
speaking about their experiences or their opinions.
The most important means to the defense of privacy is encryption. To
encrypt is to indicate the desire for privacy. But to encrypt with
weak cryptography is to indicate not too much desire for privacy.
Cypherpunks hope that all people desiring privacy will learn how best to defend it.
Cypherpunks are therefore devoted to cryptography. Cypherpunks wish
to learn about it, to teach it, to implement it, and to make more of
it. Cypherpunks know that cryptographic protocols make social
structures. Cypherpunks know how to attack a system and how to
defend it. Cypherpunks know just how hard it is to make good
Cypherpunks love to practice. They love to play with public key
cryptography. They love to play with anonymous and pseudonymous mail forwarding and delivery. They love to play with DC-nets. They love to play with secure communications of all kinds.
Cypherpunks write code. They know that someone has to write code to
defend privacy, and since it's their privacy, their going to write
it. Cypherpunks publish their code so that their fellow cypherpunks
may practice and play with it. Cypherpunks realize that security is
not built in a day and are patient with incremental progress.
Cypherpunks don't care if you don't like the software they write.
Cypherpunks know that software can't be destroyed. Cypherpunks know
that a widely dispersed system can't be shut down.
Cypherpunks will make the networks safe for privacy.ANNOUNCEMENT
Second MeetingSaturday, October 10, 1992
12:00 noon - 6:00 p.m.
Cygnus Support offices
1937 Landings Drive
Mountain View
The second meeting of the cypherpunks will be Saturday at noon. John Gilmore has graciously provided us with a meeting space at the new Cygnus Support offices. These offices are so new, in fact, that
Cygnus will not have moved in yet. This meeting will be
bring-your-own-pillow (or chair), since it will be held in largely
empty space. Directions are at the end of the message.
Attendance is transitive trust, arbitrarily deep. Invite whoever you want, and let them do so also, and so on. Invite them also to join the mailing list. Do not, however, just post the announcement. Time for that will come.I'd like everyone who plans on attending the meeting to send me,, a message telling me so. I'd like to get a rough head count before Saturday for game planning.
We are starting at noon because of popular demand. Eat beforehand or bring a burrito or something. It will be fine to eat during the first segment; it won't be any more disruptive than the game is.Bring your PGP public key for in-person key distribution, preferably
on diskette. We'll need a portable PC or three to do key distribution; if you have one you can bring, post to the list and tell people.
We realized after the first meeting that a strict schedule was
nonsense. This meeting has a very informal schedule.
Starting at noon, we're going to play session two of the
crypto-anarchy game, in which players try to conduct business under
the watchful eyes of others. We want to play for two hours and then
have discuss experiences afterward for about an hour. Some of the
improvements over last time will be flatter denominations of money,
wider distribution of commodities, more watchers (governmental and
otherwise), and perhaps some pre-printed forms.
We'll take a break to regroup for about ten or twenty minutes.For the second half we'll talk about the security of remailers. I'll lead the discussion. We'll be designing protocols and analyzing attacks and defenses. I've done this with DigiCash for electronic money protocols, and remailers are much easier, but still probably more than an afternoon's discussion. We'll do this until six or so, when people will have to start leaving.Everyone who wants to will go out for dinner. I don't know the
restaurants down there; perhaps someone could suggest one?
It's at 1937 Landings Drive, Mt. View. 101 to Amphitheatre Parkway
(the bay side of Rengstorff Ave), go right at the first light,
pass a right turn, and just before the road crests a tiny hill,
turn right into the Landings complex. We're in Building H.
  1. Cypherpunks assume privacy is a good thing & wish there were more of it.
  2. Cypherpunks are therefore devoted to cryptography.
  3. Cypherpunks love to practice.
  4. Cypherpunks write code.
Eric Hughes, Timothy C. May and John Gilmore front paging Wired Magazine

John Gilmore’s shenanigans

PGP 2.0 gets into trouble

Sinking the Clipper Chip

RSA wishes best of luck for the Clipper Chip

A very excited crew of cypherpunks

From: (Timothy C. May)
Date: Fri, 16 Apr 93 21:19:43 PDT
Subject: IMPORTANT--WE WON......NOT!
Message-ID: <>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain
FIRST, THE BAD NEWS--The government wants to control encryption.
Though they are playing coy about it, it's clear that eventually
they will try to ban "the good stuff." It's clear Zimmermann,
and others, have gotten their attention.

NOW, THE GOOD NEWS--I t d o e s n o t m a t t e r. The game
is over. We won. The government may engage in holding actions,
but it still doesn't matter. What we have here, is the State's
pitiful attempt to make the best of a bad situation. This
amazing "policy" announcement is a tacit admission of defeat.

HOW CAN I BE SO SURE?--The cat is out of the bag. Free, mil spec
data encryption is readily available to all. Within a year,
equivalent voice encryption freeware will join it. There is no
way the government can stuff the encryption cat back in the bag.
They can pass their laws. We will do as we please--and they will help us.
Inflammatory language directed at the United States Authorities
  • All three original creators of public key cryptography: Martin Hellman, Whitfield Diffie and Ralph Merkle
  • Ronald Rivest, one of the three creators of RSA encryption
  • David Chaum, Founder of Digicash
  • Phillip Zimmerman, Creator of PGP

“The Clipper proposal should not be adopted. We believe that if this proposal and the associated standards go forward, even on a voluntary basis, privacy protection will be diminished, innovation will be slowed, government accountability will be lessened, and the openness necessary to ensure the successful development of the nation’s communications infrastructure will be threatened”

Government: “Don’t worry, we got it covered”

1994 Looking sharp there Bill.

Karn vs. United States

Bernstein v. United States

Junger vs. United States

Coming full circle from Hellman, Diffie and Merkle

Paul Kocher and his ‘Deep Crack’
Photo of John Perry Gilmore in 1991 — Rest in Peace (October 3, 1947 — February 7, 2018)
John Perry Barlow listening to Mitch Kapor (1991)
Bill Gates with Mitch Kapor Co-founder of the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) in 1986
John Gilmore, Co-founder of the EFF and Cypherpunks (Late 90s)
Eric Hughes, Co-founder of the Cypherpunks
Timothy C. May, Co-founder of the Cypherpunks
Timothy C. May, skyping in on a recent cryptography conference in 2017
Phil Zimmerman, creator of PGP
Ralph Merkle of the left, Whitfield Diffie in the Middle, Martin Hellman on the right
Hal Finney, a developer who worked on PGP and was a monumental figure in the cypherpunk effort. He would go on in the 2000s to be a figure of greatness. He passed away in 2014 from ALS. Rest in peace (May 4, 1956 — August 28, 2014)



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