Talk:William F. Friedman

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edit·history·watch·refresh Stock post message.svg To-do list for William F. Friedman:

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Split Elizabeth into separate article?[edit]

Shouldn't information on Elizabeth Friedman be moved to a separate entry?


Possibly, but I don;t know too much about her except a little about her work at Treasury and for the Coast Guard. She is said to have insisted her name be spelled Elizebeth, however.


If you or someone has enough info to write a separate entry, then yes. She was a force of her own independent of W.F. Until there is enough to write a second article, it seems OK in with W.F. Williamv1138 23:46, 27 Sep 2003 (UTC)

I guess it had seemed to me that there was enough information about her in the W.F. article to spin off into at least a small entry (3 paragraphs entirely about her, plus some scattered bits).


Is this quote from the last section(?) not NPOV?

"They demonstrated unfortunate flaws in Gallup's work" Only someone who wants to find true cyphers in Shakespeare would consider it "unfortunate" for said cyphers to be found to be junk.

I take it, from the xx, that an ironic sense was meant. If so, not NPOV at all. ww 21:15, 5 Nov 2004 (UTC)

I've whacked the "unfortunate" (as an aside, I think the emphasis was the anon poster's not actually present in the article!) — Matt 18:00, 6 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Friedman was very careful discussing Gallup's work as he liked her personally, although he thought her theory was worthless.


Here is the text I removed, this previously followed the last line in the section, after "March 9, 1996":

(he was murdered by U.S. Secret Service agents involved in illegal, hypnosis-based mind control, election fraud during the 2000 and 2004 U.S. national elections, and many other crimes). Peter S. Friedman was co-founder of Tiburon Vintners & Sonoma Vineyards (Tiburon, California & Windsor, California) in the early 1960s in partnership with Rodney Strong and later he was general partner at Belvedere Winery (Healdsberg, California) with William Hambrecht. William F. Friedman's grand nephew, Peter S. Friedman's only son, Donald M. Friedman (Donald Max Garner Friedman), was born November 21, 1966 and has worked tirelessly for many years to bring the U.S. Secret Service agents guilty of his father's murder to justice

First, I am not sure that a section on Friedman's family is even appropriate for this article. Secondly, has anyone verified this genealogy? For example, do the names of Friedman's brothers and sisters (and grandnephews!) appear in his biography? Nevertheless, even if the names are correct, the part about hypnosis-based mind control has no place here. As for Donald M. Friedman's involvement with the Secret Service, here is a link of interest:

U.S. vs. Friedman


If one does a search on William Friedman on FreePatents online or Google Patents(?), one finds several cyphered patents that have remarkable Manhattan Project information. The patents include pictures on how to cut out the sheet and apply it over the text to read the cyphered text in plain english (sort of a slide rule/nomograpgh-cryptograph). These patents appear with application dates from 1934 to 1939, and some in 1928 to 1931. The legitimate patents are under William F. Friedman, while the bogus patents are under W. Friedman, I. W. Friedman, E. Friedman, and various anagrams and nom de plums. They are distinguished by 2 close filings on Saturdays or Wednesdays, and there is one patent application with a January 1 date, (ie. when the USPTO is closed!!). These are in fact the top secret (in plain view) Manhattan Project Bomb patents spoken of by Alex Wellerstein and the NPR!! Are these patents (with odd SHORT titles like: container, legging, bag, syringe, packet, packet and pad, toilet accessory, etc.), having patent numbers between 1,500,000 and 1,950,000. Are these the work of William F. Friedman, or the work of Captain Lavender and his atomic scientists; Glenn T. Seaborg, Enrico Fermi, Arthur Compton, Earnest O. Lawrence, Szilard, Morrison, Feynman, etc?

The USPTO database violation and incursion seems clear enough (Pat. #2365494, with application date of January 1, 1944, is a clear USPTO database violation because no patent can ever receive an application date on a holiday under U.S.C. 35!). Since one of the cornertstones of the USPTO is the filing date, if the USPTO's inviolable (assumed) database was violated or "hacked" by an atomic scientist, then presumably any "walk-in" off the street could, in theory, read, copy, edity, modify, delete or add to the USPTO database without the knowledge of the USPTO. This act of sabotage would invalidate every single patent application and issue, since the USPTO opened for business in 1790 (Restarted again in 1836 after fire destroyed most of the original patents). This appears to be the first time a United States Database was ever hacked and rendered useless, and it was done under the name of W. Friedman. The USPTO has never fully recovered from the first database virus in human history. The question seems why? Like any computer hack, to make a point. The USPTO was (is?) insecure to hold atomic secrets in 1945 and 1946. The Department of Energy and the National Security Agency may owe at least part of their existence to a database security hack under the name of W. Friedman (perhaps by Glenn T. Seaborg or Enrico Fermi).

"Senator MILLIKIN. Of these applications that are impounded in the Patent Office, how many people have access to them?" "Captain LAVENDER. We have set up a very definite way of handling these applications, and they are known in the Patent Office as “special handling” cases. These special handling cases are designated at the time I filed them, in the letter forwarding the application to the Commissioner of Patents. These applications are sent down to Richmond—that is, to the examiners when they are down there—only by an official of the Patent Office and delivered personally to the chief examiner of the division. The chief examiner and his assistant were the only ones who were designated by the Commissioner of Patents to handle those cases. They are kept in separate safes in the Patent Office." "Senator MILLIKIN. That is two people. Does anybody else get to look at them?" "Captain LAVENDER. I would say “No.” An examiner may be examining one, and the chief examiner may be on a case and have someone come up. But I have been down there several times and I know that they are working on those cases." "Senator MILLIKIN. So at one time you said the chief examiner and now you have mentioned chief examiners. How many people could this possibly clear through in the Patent Office?" "Captain LAVENDER. Each case would go to the examiner of a division who is known as the chief examiner. Now, he may have one other person—his assistant—work on that case with him. In some of these divisions there are quite a large number of cases so that one person couldn’t handle them all. The only other way I suggested was that another person in the Patent Office might see them would be, say, a person who happened to pass along at the time that this case was on the desk of the chief examiner." "Senator MILLIKIN. Is there a compartmentalization so far as these particular impounded applications are concerned, so that by rule or by law in some way or other one examiner cannot be talking to another?" "Captain LAVENDER. Oh, yes. The Commissioner of Patents has issued very definite instructions as to the disclosure of information to anyone who is not entitled to receive it." "Senator MILLIKIN. Have these men been very carefully studied in the light of this particular problem?" "Captain LAVENDER. I would say “Yes,” because the chief of the division has been a person of long service and he didn’t come into that position except as his integrity, his reliability, and other characteristics were very well developed. The heads of these divisions are all very well tried officials." "Senator MILLIKIN. You would have complete confidence?" "Captain LAVENDER. That is correct. I have on several occasions been to Richmond in connection with the work on this and have talked with the examiners that have most of my cases, and I have found them all to be a very fine, reliable group." "Senator MILLIKIN. Can you tell us whether you know as a fact that the background of these men, so far as there country of origin is concerned, has been studied." "Captain LAVENDER. I don’t quite understand." "Senator MILLIKIN. If John Doe, examiner, is born in X foreign country, has that feature of it been studied specifically in the case of all of them?" "Captain LAVENDER. I don’t know, but I can only say this: The heads of these divisions have been tested and tried throughout a number of years, and I don’t think that there is any chance of a leak there." "Senator MILLIKIN. I do not by my questioning impute anything of that kind, but in all of these things we have to take extra precautions, and I have been wondering whether a special study of those men has been made in relation to this particular stuff in its relation to the foreign implications." "Captain LAVENDER. Well, I imagine that the security division of the Manhattan District has checked the system that we established, and probably the personnel." "Senator MILLIKIN. It might not be a bad idea to look into that." "Captain LAVENDER. I feel sure the Security Division has done that." "Commander ANDERSON. The Security Division has approved them and the handling of this method." "Senator MILLIKIN. We can interpret that as the system, but do you give the same answer to the personnel?" "Commander ANDERSON. They have all been approved by the Department of Commerce, and taken oath with respect to which they are requested to keep all applications under secrecy. They are under the Espionage Act." "Senator MILLIKIN. That doesn’t quite go to the thing I am driving at; and that is as to their suitability for the job they hold in connection with this particular thing we are talking about." "Captain LAVENDER. I shall suggest that to the Security Division and ask whether or not they have investigated the individuals." "The CHAIRMAN. Captain, are all of these patents in the status of patent applications, or have any patents been issued?" "Captain LAVENDER. There are no patents issued that were filed by the Government. There are certain patents relating to atomic fission which have been issued to independent inventors before the emergency." "The CHAIRMAN. Before we got into it as a country?" "Captain LAVENDER. That is right." "The CHAIRMAN. Are there any patent applications giving the bomb-making details in those patent applications?" "Captain LAVENDER. Well, I think that I had better give you that in executive session if you are going into any details of it." "The CHAIRMAN. Not what details there were, but whether there were any of the details given in the patent application. You don’t want to talk about that?" "Captain LAVENDER. Not any more than to say that the bombs are covered by applications." "The CHAIRMAN. I wonder what is the necessity for covering the bomb itself by applications for patents?" "Captain LAVENDER. Well, it is very important for this reason: I knew that as soon as the bomb went off there would be a great deal of speculation among various scientists and others, engineers, who had not been connected with the project. I knew that a great many applications would be filed in the Patent Office, so I was interested in having filed in the Patent Office these applications, so that if any applications were filed and we got into interference, the Government would not be suffering the handicap of being the second one to file, because the first to file has a great advantage from an interference procedure point of view." "The CHAIRMAN. You see, Senator, this information which we have just received makes all the more pertinent your line of inquiry. I didn’t dream, frankly, up until this point that there was a patent application down there showing how the bomb was put together. Did You?" "Senator MILLIKEN. No. Personally, I regret it." "The CHAIRMAN. I, too." "Captain LAVENDER. I was reserving for any discussion in the executive session another special handling of these applications relating to bombs, which I am sure fully safeguard it. I didn’t mention that at the time I discussed the special handling cases."

The list of patents with secret U.S. military value, will be added later, including E. REED (an anagram perhaps for a US department).

And Now, the patents: W. F. Friedman patents: 1516180, 1522775, 1530660, 1608590, 1694874, 1857374, 2028772, 2080416, 2139676, 2140424, 2166137, 2224646, 2395863, 2465367, 2518458, 2552548, 2877565, 6097812, 6130946

W. Friedman patents: 1577406, 1580030, 1626674, 1626927, 1630566, 1630566, 1634712, 1650703, 1652402, 1672519, 1681110, 1719428, 1733189, 1739634, 1743813, 1794602, 1814747, 1814749, 1815922, 1852455, 1854373, 1858218, 1887298, 1887299, 1895187, 1903357, 1949201, 1977183, 2072327, 2365494, 2677861, 2712652, 2836925

W. Friedman USPTO inviolable patent database violation and database intrusion: 2365494

“In the process I personally destroyed more property in the form of patents than any other man living.” --Vannevar Bush, Pieces of the Action (New York: Morrow, 1970), p. 84.

E., F., G., Isidor, H. Lois D., M., N. H., I.W., Samuel, William D., W.E., W.H., W.L. (etc.)…Friedman patents: 1358685, 1564056, 1653163, 1699105, 2011335, 2124551, 2359148, 2378072, 2440042, 2487797, 2544308, 2615214, 2637031

E. REED (Defense Research Establishment Encryption Engineer??) patents: 2712652, 2836925

F.T. BARR (FUBAR??) patent: 2518270

Glenn T. Seaborg and Isadore Perlman patent: 2852336

The above patents may be confirmed or refuted through at least three patent search engines:,, and (they all use pdf formats). (talk) 22:05, 28 October 2009 (UTC)Gordon Jenkins, 76 chemin du Village, Luskville, QC J0X2G0 CANADA70.52.212.244 (talk) 22:05, 28 October 2009 (UTC)

Shakespeare ciphers[edit]

I am afraid I don't have the book with me at present and cannot access the whole online. The Friedmans certainly rejected all ciphers which had been produced up until their time but to my understanding were not slamming the door shut on the whole subject, just saying it should be rigorous. If so then the article should make this clear. I may return to this when I get access to the book again. Sceptic1954 (talk) 05:43, 27 June 2013 (UTC)

My understanding does not precisely accord with yours. In The Code-Breakers, David Kahn writes:

The Friedmans pointed out that, unlike, say, a professor of English, they had "no professional or emotional stake in any particular claim to the authorship of Shakeseare's plays" and that the anti-Shakespearean "claims based on cryptography can be scientifically examined, and proved or disproved." They say they will accept as valid any cipher that fulfills two conditions: that its plaintext makes sense, and the this plaintext is unique and unambiguous - that, in other words, it not be one of several possible results. (revised ed., p.879)

That the Friendmans set up rigorous standards to examine claimed ciphers is not the same as saying that "the hypothesis that there might be codes or ciphers in the works of Shakespeare was not necessarily in itself unreasonable", so I do think you will need a source for this claim. Beyond My Ken (talk) 16:04, 27 June 2013 (UTC)
I have the book. I don't think that the Friedmans ever say that the hypothesis that there might be ciphers in Shakespeare is not 'unreasonable'. That's phrasing things in such a way as to imply that they thought one might expect to find ciphers in Shakespeare. What they do say, is that if you accept the premiss that, say, Bacon wrote the works and that he wished to reveal that information to future "illuminati", then it he could have used ciphers (since, after all, he invented one):

At the outset we must make two things clear. First, the science of cryptology (which concerns itself with secret writing by means of codes and ciphers) is a branch of knowledge which goes back far into the past -- certainly beyond Elizabethan times. In the sixteenth century it was abundantly used. It is also certain that Francis Bacon (the leading contender for the authorship of the plays) gave a brief account of cryptography, and invented a unique and admirable cipher system which we shall later describe. So it is clear that ciphers could quite certainly have been used, and by Bacon in particular, to conceal a claim to the true authorship of any work. The question of course -- as Prof. E. R. Vincent pointed out in the parallel case of Dante -- is not whether ciphers could have been used, but whether they were used. (p.xv)

Of course we can always say there could be ciphers in the work of Dante, Shakespeare, Chaucer, Homer or anyone else of we wanted to. It's an "anything is possible" argument. But we shouldn't be adding statements which imply that the Friedmans believed that it was somehow reasonable to expect to find ciphers in Shakespeare. Paul B (talk) 17:20, 27 June 2013 (UTC)
I did use the double negative 'not unreasonable' as opposed to 'reasonable'. I'll want to look at the book again, the impression I had was that it didn't slam the door completely on future cipher hunting. In the last couple of decades there has been some work done on the dedication to Shakespeare's Sonnets which is of a rather different nature to that done on the First Folio, with a base of just 144 and 146 letters. I don't think the Friedmans would have said it was crazy to look for ciphers there. Sceptic1954 (talk) 20:32, 27 June 2013 (UTC)
I very much doubt that the Freidmans would ever say "we have demonstrated beyond doubt there are no ciphers in Shakespeare". That would one of those negatives it's pretty much impossible to prove (though I'd have to read the whole book over to find out for sure whether any such definitive statement was made). They simply say that all of those proposed are either demonstrably false or allow for so many variations that they are unfalsifible and therefore not true ciphers. Paul B (talk) 10:41, 28 June 2013 (UTC)
One thing I carried away from the book is that they said they said that ciphers should be judged by professional cryptanalysts by the principles of cryptanalysis rather than rejected by general Shakespeare scholars who said that the results don't fit existing assumptions. I find that a sound principle. Sceptic1954 (talk) 10:57, 28 June 2013 (UTC)
In the preface they refer to both Stratfordians and anti-Stratfordians who have called for a professional cryptographer to examine the ciphers. The context is important here. At the time almost all cipher theories were Baconian. So both Stratfordians and non-Baconian anti-Strats had an interest in debunking the ciphers (They quote the Derbyite Titherley asking for a cipher specialist to look at the Baconian ciphers). They do criticise a couple of Shakespeare specialists, one of whom said ciphers are silly and one of whom (Frederick E. Pierce) argued that even if a cipher were found it would probably be a typesetter's joke, and therefore not to be taken seriously (p.14). The nearest to a general criticism I can find is a passage in the conclusion in which they say "We have not so dismissed them because we wished not to succumb to the hasty dogmatism of some Shakespeareans. Moreover, it was important that we should be seen to have given each representative system a careful examination. We felt the need to conduct an inquiry of which it could not be said that it was a mere huff-and-puff dismissal of the whole question by persons committed to the opposing point of view -- persons who might gain a living by expounding orthodox Shakespeare scholarship, or who might have some emotional stake in the question." (p. 285). This their general conclusion:

It must be remembered that the biliteral cipher is the one reputable system among all those proposed so far in support of anti-Stratfordian theories -- that is, it is the only cipher which the professional cryptologist could admit as a valid system in itself. Yet we think we have shown decisively that it was not used. As for the others, not only were they not used; they were not usable, nor even credible. We suggest that those who wish to dispute the authorship of the Shakespeare plays should not in future resort to cryptographic evidence, unless they show themselves in some way competent to do so. They must do better than their predecessors. We urge that they should acquaint themselves at least with the basic principles of the subject, and that they conduct their arguments with some standards of rigour. Before they add to the very large corpus of writings on the subject, they might also consider subjecting their findings to the inspection of a professional who has no strong leaning to either side of the dispute. If all this is done the argument will be raised to a higher plane. There is even the possibility that it would cease altogether. (pp.287-8)

I hope this is useful. Paul B (talk) 15:40, 28 June 2013 (UTC)
Thank you Paul. The last sentence can be read in more than one way. It might be read simply as stating the possibility that the argument might cease, or as the hope. Decades after the Friedmans wrote this John Rollet proposed that an equidistant letter sequence, which is a simple form of cipher, had been used in the Sonnets' dedication. There was plenty of precedent for such a cipher being used. I consider that Rollet met the Friedman's criteria, he was acquainted with the basic principloes of the subject, he conducted his argument with some standards of rigour and his claim may have been reviewed by a professional cryptanalyst - this would be mentioned either in the Elizabethan Review itself or the Times article about the ER article. Therefore the wording of the wiki article should not be such as to imply that the Friedmans said that any future attempot to find a cipher anywhere in the writings of Shakespeare would fail.Sceptic1954 (talk) 20:27, 28 June 2013 (UTC)
I don't see why the article on Friedman should say anything at all about a cipher theory that was proposed decades after his death. All that the article says is "The book demonstrated flaws in Gallup's work and in that of others who sought hidden ciphers in Shakespeare's work." That's perfectly correct. Obviously it said nothing about what hadn't been written yet. I cannot understand why we should be adding comments unrelated to what the book itself says. Paul B (talk) 15:13, 29 June 2013 (UTC)
No of course it shouldn't mention Rollet, but it should be worded in such a way that the Friedmans authority could not be used to discourage anyone from studying Rollet. That's all. Sceptic1954 (talk) 18:33, 29 June 2013 (UTC)
I agree with Paul Barlow's take on this. Beyond My Ken (talk) 19:17, 29 June 2013 (UTC)
Per TPO, general discussion not about improving the article BMK (talk) 11:14, 8 March 2015 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── The basic question is - was William Shakespeare 'converting stories into playscripts, with the inclusion of in-jokes, allusions and sponsorship ('you pay me five nobles, and a character will be named after you - a speech will be 10 nobles') or creating a massive puzzle which could only be interpreted centuries later. Jackiespeel (talk) 10:57, 7 March 2015 (UTC)

This talk page is not intended for general discussion of the subject matter, but for discussions about improving the article. BMK (talk) 16:08, 7 March 2015 (UTC)
A passing comment/observation made some 21 months after the previous one - and as the plays were working documents adapted to suit the audiences' tastes/the play printers' sense of good taste any ciphers would be quickly lost. Jackiespeel (talk) 23:31, 7 March 2015 (UTC)
It was not uncommon for writers to collaborate with printers on page layout. There are many poems printed as angel's wings or hour glasses [1]. Having said thst, there is no evidence thst any writers controlled layout in the bizarre and obscure way that anti-Strats argue for. Your view of the "hollywood"-like conditions of Elizabethan playwriting has a reasonable basis, but is wildly exaggerated. There is no evidence of name use as a sort of 'product placement' of the kind you describe. In any case, none of this has anything to do with the Friedmans or their book. Paul B (talk) 00:29, 8 March 2015 (UTC)
Shall we agree that there are 'practical reasons' such as those I suggested against there being any code surviving in 'the standard plays as now studied by generations of children in English classes' surviving - #as well as# the arguments propounded by Friedman (which is the point I was making). Jackiespeel (talk) 11:00, 8 March 2015 (UTC)


I notice that this page uses "Infobox engineer". The article says he studied agriculture, researched genetics and then moved into cryptography. Engineering does not seem to feature. The infobox creates a line saying "engineering career", under which "cryptologist" appears. Was there a reason for adopting this infobox? The "engineering career" line seems weirdly out of place. Paul B (talk) 19:43, 29 June 2013 (UTC)