I've tried to disavow some of my geek heritage, mostly to claim a purely artistic path in this world. Truth be told, I have a rich personal history rooted in 1's and 0's, mine being just the latest in the family line. Today my grandpa Sam, that's Samuel S. Snyder, was inducted into the NSA Hall of Honor for his instrumental work in breaking the Japanese codes in WWII and developing one of the first computers for the government. My uncle Joel recounts it well here, with pictures.
I couldn't be more proud, Grandpa. [You saved the world, so I could blog about it. Thank you. ;-)]
From the official docs:
"MR. SAMUEL S. SNYDER made significant contributions to the development
of the modern computer, as we know it, as well as its specific
applications to cryptologic problems.
"Samuel Snyder began his career as an 'assistant cryptographic clerk'
with the U.S. Army's Signal Intelligence Service in 1936. He was one of
the first ten employees in that organization, which was a predecessor
to NSA. During World War II, he led large teams that exploited Japanese
"Noticing that use of sorting machines for cryptanalytic support was
haphazard, Snyder suggested a more systematic approach to William
Friedman, and Friedman tasked him with developing it. Snyder's
innovations made special-purpose devices a strong asset in rapid
wartime exploitation of enemy communications.
"After the war, Snyder carefully researched what was known about the
new field of computing and in 1952 was instrumental in designing and
building ABNER, a then-sophisticated computer that took advantage of
"During the 1950s, Snyder conducted in-house research and worked with
outside contractors to design and build three more powerful systems.
The last of these was HARVEST, one of the first general-purpose
computers. HARVEST greatly expanded NSA's computing capabilities, but
also had significant influence on the commercial computer market.
"In 1964 Snyder became an information systems specialist for the
Library of Congress and was one of the creators of the library's
Machine Readable Cataloging (MARC) system for bibliographic data. This
became an international standard for data sharing in research.
"Samuel Snyder's pioneering work in early computers led directly to the
development of the computer as we know it, and laid the foundation for
many aspects of the modern computing industry."