Dorothy Blum

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Dorothy Toplitzky Blum
Dorothy T Blum 1924 1980.jpg
Born (1924-02-21)February 21, 1924
New York City, NY, USA
Citizenship American
Alma mater Brooklyn College
Occupation Computer scientist, cryptanalyst
Employer National Security Agency, US Army

Dorothy Toplitzky Blum (February 21, 1924 – October 1980)[1] was an American computer scientist and cryptanalyst. She worked for the National Security Agency and its predecessors from 1944 until her death in 1980.


Dorothy Toplitzky was born in 1924 in New York City to Austro-Hungarian immigrant parents.[1] After graduating from Brooklyn College in 1944, she joined the cryptologic unit of the U.S. Army. She remained in the organization World War II as it became the United States Army Security Agency and later the National Security Agency (NSA).[2] She married NSA mathematician Joseph Blum in 1950, and they later had a son.[1]

In the 1950s, Blum worked in the NSA's internal organization tasked with "keep[ing] abreast of the latest advances in the field of computing" and recommended computer technologies that could be adapted for cryptanalysis and communications intelligence.[2] She wrote computer software for the NSA and spearheaded the effort to teach NSA employees to write cryptanalytic programs. She began using the Fortran programming language three years before its public release in 1957.[3]

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Blum continued to work in the field of computer science, helping to design the NSA's computer systems and automate processes. In 1972, she became the chief of the NSA Computer Operations Organization (C7), the only woman at the time in the organization's management hierarchy. She was appointed chief of Plans and Project Development Organization (T4) in the Telecommunications and Computer Services Organization in 1977. She was also involved in the Women in NSA (WIN) group.[3]


Blum died from cancer in October 1980, aged 56.[2] An internal award at the NSA was named after her, and in 2004, she was inducted into the NSA Hall of Honor.[3] An official NSA biography states that, in her 36-year career, Blum "significantly changed the way NSA did cryptanalysis".[4] She was also elected one of the top 100 "most outstanding women in the federal government".[4]


  1. ^ a b c "Die Lady von der NSA" (in German). Heinz Nixdorf MuseumsForum. January 22, 2016. Retrieved April 13, 2016. 
  2. ^ a b c "Cryptologic Almanac 50th Anniversary Series – Dorothy Toplitzky Blum: A Pioneer Computer Scientist" (PDF) (Press release). National Security Agency. March 5, 2010. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 26, 2015. Retrieved April 13, 2016. 
  3. ^ a b c "Dorothy T. Blum (1924–1980)". National Security Agency. January 15, 2009. Retrieved April 13, 2016. 
  4. ^ a b "Dorothy Blum". National Security Agency. January 15, 2009. Retrieved April 13, 2016.