Cryptograph (company)

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FoundedJuly 21, 1916; 107 years ago (1916-07-21)
  • Olof Gyldén
  • Arvid Gerhard Damm
Defunct1930 (1930)
ProductsCrypto machines

Cryptograph was a limited Swedish company developing and selling crypto machines, founded on July 21, 1916 and liquidated in 1930. It was probably the first company in the world to focus entirely on the cryptographic market.

In Berlin in December 1914 two Swedes, Olof Gyldén, a navy officer with an interest in cryptography, and Arvid Gerhard Damm a Swedish engineer and inventor, met to discuss Damm’s ideas for a new type of crypto machine. Impressed, Gyldén then managed to interest a group of Swedish businessmen to invest in a project to exploit Damm´s ideas commercially. A patent consortium, Cryptograph, was founded in June, 1915. A year later, a shareholding company with the same name was established with Gyldén as chairman and CEO. Damm was given the position of engineer and was also a shareholder.

Expectations were great and sales estimated at more than 50 desktop machines and 500 handheld devices per year. However, actual sales were far below these numbers, and though Damm made new inventions and designed new machines, the financial situation deteriorated. With the infusion of new money, primarily from Emanuel Nobel, the company was kept alive and machines continued to be produced, but success proved elusive.

In 1925 Boris Hagelin was put in charge of the company. He was the son of K W Hagelin, a close associate of Emanuel Nobel. In 1928, in competition with the Zählwerk Enigma he managed to secure an order from the Swedish General Staff for a newly developed machine, the B-21. It was based on the ideas of Damm´s B-13 but equipped with a battery and an Enigma style lamp field.

In 1930 the Cryptograph company was terminated with all patent rights transferred to Boris Hagelin´s company Ingeniörsfirman Teknik which in turn was renamed Cryptoteknik in 1939. It stayed in business until 1958 when all activities were transferred to Boris Hagelin´s Swiss company Crypto AG, founded in 1952.


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