Colonel Parker Hitt
Most of the life of Colonel Parker Hitt, an American cryptographer during the war period, still remains a mystery, as there exists very little written evidence of his undertakings before his contributions at the warfront. In the year 1898, while he was pursuing his bachelors degree in Civil Engineering at Purdue University, he enrolled himself in the army, abandoning his degree mid way.
It was during this period, that he developed a passion for deciphering cryptic texts, and his talent was recognized when he attended Signal School, so much so he was made an instructor at the academy himself! He scaled new heights in the field of decoding, as he broke the intercepted cryptic message sent by the agents of Pancho Villa as well as the popular Mexican Army Cipher disk. But he stands tall for publishing the first ever book on Cryptography by the US Army, "The Manual for Solution of Military Ciphers". This was printed at Fort Leavenworth, which was where the Signal School was situated.
The years 1914-1917, were crucial in the cryptographic timeline, as it was here that he blueprinted the design of a cipher, which went on to undergo modifications to become the M-94 in 1922. It was worked upon by Major Joseph Mauborgne, Signal Corps, in the year 1917, and it continued to be used till the year 1945, becoming more intricate to meet requirements during the World War II. In addition to this, in the year 1916, he invented the M-138 strip system which was used to modify the M-94 years later. This design went on to become M-138 A which included close to thirty channel devices. These were backup systems. He served on Perishing's crew in 1918, after which he was promoted to Chief Signal Officer.
- Getting the message through, chapter 6. US Army center for Military History
- A Brief History of US Army Intelligence