Whitfield Diffie is an American computer scientist and researcher. In this interview, he discusses his formative years and upbringing, including an early interest in codes and ciphers. He discusses the meaning of cryptography and his early forays into the field while working at Stanford University’s AI laboratory under John McCarthy. After an extended journey across the United States with his friend Mary visiting various research centers and investigating cryptography with leading figures in the field, Diffie began work at IBM’s Thomas Watson Research Center. While there, he learned of professor Martin Hellman of Stanford University, whom he soon joined in a research effort on the West Coast. Diffie then discusses the origin and development of the Diffie-Hellman public-key cryptography system, one of the most significant developments in computer security in many years and their collaboration with computer scientist Ralph Merkel.
Diffie, Whitfield; public-key cryptography; Moravec, Hans; McCarthy, John; IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center; Konheim, Alan; Hellman, Martin; DES (Digital Encryption Standard); National Security Agency (NSA); Merkle, Ralph; Stanford University