08 August, 2005

The BID list

British government crypto devices seem to all be assigned a BID code, one for each type of device. Because I'm a geek, I went and Googled and chucked together a list of BID codes together with any info about these devices I could find, although the details of most of them remain classified. I like the codenames, too -- they sound very mysterious and cloak-and-dagger, names like ALBERCOR, CRUCIBLE, NOREEN and, er, KITCHENMAID. Hmm, maybe not so cool after all ;-)

If anyone has any more info on BID devices, let me know.


Blogger College Boy said...

That looks interesting. Any information as to the date of introduction of the BIT in crypto machines?


10:19 am  
Blogger Matt Crypto said...

My best guess is somewhere between 1937 and 1950 ;-) The only info I have is that the earliest machines in the list, Typex 22 and 23 (BIDs 08/2 and 08/3 respectively) were brought into service by New Zealand in 1950. I believe Typex was Britain's first standard cipher machine, so it's possible that the BID codes were first used on Typex, and Typex was first introduced in 1937.

10:32 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Having used and worked on some of the bid kit, you might like to know that the BID1100 actually used ordinary 14 pin logic chips on a single mother board to do it's stuff.

Even earlier was the 600 series, this was a number of units that where linked together, via cables, when set up in an appropriat rack it was slightly larger than a 4ft bookcase. It was programed via wire links from a series of plug in cards. All in all it was an unreliable beast and it was very easy to send green instead of red.

With regard to the Typex, this was effectivly 100% compatable with the German Enigma machines if you look at the Bletchly Home pages you will see pictures of it, it looks like the result of an illigitmate relationship detween a desk calculator and a box of car spares ;)

6:45 pm  
Blogger Matt Crypto said...

Clive, thanks for the bid info. Do you know the BID numbers for the units in the 600 series?

The older Typexes, or at least the ones I've seen at BP, are, as you say, pretty darn ugly! The Typex Mark III looks a little better, I think.

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