Early advocacy for digital sovereignty

Cypherpunks and the Crypto Wars

Eric Hughes, John Gilmore, John Perry Barlow, Timothy C. May, Julian Assange, Nick Szabo....

Crypto Wars and PGP

  • A Cypherpunk’s Manifesto by Eric Hughes (‘93) - CryptoQuikRead_163

    Privacy is necessary for an open society in the electronic age. Privacy is not secrecy. A private matter is something one doesn’t want the whole world to know, but a secret matter is something one doesn’t want anybody to know. Privacy is the power to selectively reveal oneself to the world.

    If two parties have some sort of dealings, then each has a memory of their interaction. Each party can speak about their own memory of this; how could anyone prevent it? One could pass laws against it, but the freedom of speech, even more than privacy, is fundamental to an open society; we seek not to restrict any speech at all. If many parties speak together in the same forum, each can speak to all the others and aggregate together knowledge about individuals and other parties. The power of electronic communications has enabled such group speech, and it will not go away merely because we might want it to.

  • Birth of Cypherpunks: Short
  • Open Rights Group wiki - Crypto Wars

    For several decades, individuals and organizations concerned with protecting their personal privacy and corporate secrets have been engaged in a heated battle with government officials to gain the right to freely employ encryption techniques and technologies to safeguard their information.

  • wikipedia.org/wiki/Crypto_Wars
  • Untold History of Blockchain
    • Phil Zimmerman creates PGP(‘91), the first publicly available encryption allowing people to communicate using 128-bit encryption and Diffie-Hellman for key management. Zimmerman published PGP code in book form to strengthen its case as freedom ofspeech.
    • Open Source software development
    • Peer to peer sharing
  • Crypto Wars, Phil Zimmermann and PGP - cryptoanarchy.wiki

    Phil Zimmermann was a key player in this period. The PGP software he authored was considered as munitions by the US government and subject to export licenses. The US government at this time was keen to avoid strong crypto falling into the hands of civilians and foreign governments. At this time the US government was also pushing for specialised key-escrowed chips that would perform encryption, but make the plaintext readable to NSA if necessary. This was rightly considered a gross violation of privacy, rights, and a huge security hole by the cypherpunks.

  • Why I Wrote PGP -Part of the Original 1991 PGP User’s Guide - CryptoQuikRead_150
  • Bernstein vs US Dept of Justice (Decided in ‘96)

    While a graduate student at the University of California at Berkeley, Bernstein completed the development of an encryption equation (an “algorithm”) he calls “Snuffle.” Bernstein wishes to publish a) the algorithm (b) a mathematical paper describing and explaining the algorithm and (c) the “source code” for a computer program that incorporates the algorithm. Bernstein also wishes to discuss these items at mathematical conferences, college classrooms and other open public meetings. The Arms Export Control Act and the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (the ITAR regulatory scheme) required Bernstein to submit his ideas about cryptography to the government for review, to register as an arms dealer, and to apply for and obtain from the government a license to publish his ideas. Failure to do so would result in severe civil and criminal penalties. Bernstein believes this is a violation of his First Amendment rights and has sued the government.

  • Computer Security Act of 1987

    The Computer Security Act of 1987, Public Law No. 100-235 (H.R. 145), (Jan. 8, 1988), was a United States federal law enacted in 1987. It was intended to improve the security and privacy of sensitive information in federal computer systems and to establish minimally acceptabl…

  • Code Wars — How ‘Ultra’ and ‘Magic’ Led to Allied Victory

    When the top secret code breaking activities at Bletchley Park were revealed in the 1970s, much of the history of the Second World War had to be rewritten. Code Wars examines the role of ULTRA (the intelligence derived from breaking secret enemy signals) on major events of the Second World War. It examines how it influenced the outcome of key battles such as D-Day, El Alamein, Crete, key naval battles, the controversy surrounding Churchill and Coventry, the shadowing of Hitler’s V1 pilotless aircraft and the V2 rocket.

  • U.S. Export Controls on Encryption Technology by Shirley K. Hung A.B. Government Harvard College, 2000
  • Mark Miller and the Decades long quest for Smart Contracts mark miller tells of fighting for the freedom of RSA paper
  • Export of cryptography from the United States

    The export of cryptographic technology and devices from the United States was severely restricted by U.S. law until 1992, but was gradually eased until 2000; some restrictions still remain. Since World War II, many governments, including the U.S. and its NATO allies, have reg…

  • Statement of Louis J. Freeh, Director - Federal Bureau of Investigation Before the Senate Judiciary Committee July 9, 1997

    Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, I appreciate the opportunity to discuss the issue of encryption and I applaud your willingness to deal with this vital public safety issue.

    The looming spectre of the widespread use of robust, virtually uncrackable encryption is one of the most difficult problems confronting law enforcement as the next century approaches. At stake are some of our most valuable and reliable investigative techniques, and the public safety of our citizens. We believe that unless a balanced approach to encryption is adopted that includes a viable key management infrastructure, the ability of law enforcement to investigate and sometimes prevent the most serious crimes and terrorism will be severely impaired. Our national security will also be jeopardized.

  • Cryptome 2016 - 1996
  • Matt Blaze’s Technical Papers

    Many of my technical papers are available here. Newer papers are usually in Adobe PDF format; like it or not, PDF is the de facto standard format for scientific papers these days. Most of the older papers are in PostScript format; you’ll need a PostScript printer or viewer (such as GhostView) to read them. Most of these files have also been converted to Adobe PDF format (using ps2pdf) and can be viewed or printed with a PDF viewer such as Acrobat, acroread4, or xpdf. If you have a choice, you’ll probably find the PostScript version looks and works better than the PDF version does (ps2pdf doesn’t do particularly well with some of the fonts). A few papers are available as plain ASCII text or LaTeX source.

  • Attorney General will ask Zuckerberg to halt plans for end-to-end encryption - Hacker News
  • Eva (@evacide)

    I do not want your encryption backdoors I do not want them in a box I do not want them with a fox I do not want them here or there I do not want them anywhere

  • Encryption Export Controls: International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) : Sponsored Programs and Regulatory Compliance Services
  • An Interview with MARTIN HELLMAN

    Leading cryptography scholar Martin Hellman begins by discussing his developing interest in cryptography, factors underlying his decision to do academic research in this area, and the circumstances and fundamental insights of his invention of public key cryptography with collaborators Whitfield Diffie and Ralph Merkle at Stanford University in the mid-1970s. He also relates his subsequent work in cryptography with Steve Pohlig (the Pohlig-Hellman system) and others. Hellman addresses his involvement with and the broader context of the debate about the federal government’s cryptography policy—regarding to the National Security Agency’s (NSA) early efforts to contain and discourage academic work in the field, the Department of Commerce’s encryption export restrictions (under the International Traffic of Arms Regulation, or ITAR), and key escrow (the so-called Clipper chip). He also touches on the commercialization of cryptography with RSA Data Security and VeriSign, as well as indicates some important individuals in academe and industry who have not received proper credit for their accomplishments in the field of cryptography.

  • NSA Backdoor Key from Lotus-Notes

    Before the US crypto export regulations were finally disolved the export version of Lotus Notes used to include a key escrow / backdoor feature called differential cryptography. The idea was that they got permission to export 64 bit crypto if 24 of those bits were encrypted for the NSA’s public key. The NSA would then only have the small matter of brute-forcing the remaining 40 bits to get the plaintext, and everyone else would get a not-that-great 64 bit key space (which probably already back then NSA would have had the compute power to brute force also, only at higher cost).

  • Computers, Freedom and Privacy - citizendum wiki - homepage
  • 1997-09-14 - Notes from the Cypherpunks September Bay Area Meeting

    Here are some notes I took at the Cypherpunks September Bay Area Meeting on September 13 at “PGP World Headquarters” in San Mateo. Quotes are summaries and interpretations, but hopefullfy fair and accurate. My interpolations enclosed in square brackets. Cypherpunks meetings are not particularly formal, but more like a dialog between a number of people, punctuated with slightly more formal presentations.

    EH: The government now desires access to all plaintext communication.

    Tim: The British, and OECD, trusted third party proposal is a nightmare: even if you have access to software such as PGP and Explorer that provides strong privacy, the British now regard the keys you need to use that technology as “crypto material” – and it will be illegal to distribute unbreakable keys [presumably without license or escrow capabilities].

    Vinnie Moscaritalo (Vinnie): Black market?

    EH: No: there will be an underground market [the distinction is important] what we need are legitimate distribution of keys and crypto. Social pressure will otherwise keep crypto unused.

    Tim: Quoting Whitfield Diffie: this is like the war on drugs. Ban crypto and companies will deutize themselves to assist the government just as they did by requiring urine tests.

  • 1993-04-17 - IMPORTANT–WE WON……NOT!

    Drugs are freely available on nearly every inner city street corner. The “cat is out of the bag,” as you say. And yet….

    • the War on (Some) Drugs….

    • mandatory hard time for first offenses (ask the Santa Cruz kid doing 10 years without parole for possession of some amount of acid…the weight of the blotter paper kicked it up to the 10-year level)
    • civil forfeiture… “We find a roach, we get your yacht.”
    • midnight raids, often killing innocent citizens (ask the Malibu retired guy who got zapped by the Feds…turns out they’d already greedily started to divvy up his land to various parks…and of course he was totally innocent–and now dead)
    • “D.A.R.E.”-type brainwashing of children, encouraging them to turn in their parents

    …and so on. You should all know about these things, on this of all days (16 April 1943, 50 years ago, was the discovery of LSD).

    Restricting crypto means the government has a big club they use to threaten, intimidate, force cooperation, etc. Just like with taxes, drugs, and everything else they control.

    Under the civil forfeiture laws, my assets (which I depend on to live out the rest of my life on!!) could be seized if the government suspects I’m using “illegal crypto.” Not under current laws, but certainly under the laws that follow from the “Clinton Clipper.”

    Anyone with assets to seize–a house, a business, a stock account–becomes a fair target.

  • Untraceable Digital Cash, Information Markets, and BlackNet

    “Governmental and Social Implications of Digital Money” panel at CFP ‘97 - Tim May Corralitos, CA tcmay@got.net In agonizing over what to include in my 8 or 10 minutes of talking, and my handful of pages here, I realized it would be best to concentrate on a specific example rather than speak in generalities or try to educate folks about what digital cash is, how it works, how regulators and law enforcement types will try to control it, etc. I use an experimental–and controversial–experiment I released on the Net several years ago, BlackNet, as this example.

  • Today In Infosec (@todayininfosec)

    1994: Code for the RC4 stream cipher, previously a trade secret, was anonymously posted to the Cypherpunks mailing list.

  • S.266 - 102nd Congress (1991-1992): Comprehensive Counter-Terrorism Act of 1991

    Subtitle B: Electronic Communications - Expresses the sense of the Congress that providers of electronic communications services and manufacturers of electronic communications service equipment should ensure that communications systems permit the Government to obtain the plain text contents of voice, data, and other communications when appropriately authorized by law.

  • 18. International Traffic In Arms Regulations
  • ‘Crypto Wars’ topic on VICE
  • Steven Levy - WIRED
    • Cypher Wars - Pretty Good Privacy Gets Pretty Legal
    • Crypto Rebels

      It’s the FBIs, NSAs, and Equifaxes of the world versus a swelling movement of Cypherpunks, civil libertarians, and millionaire hackers. At stake: Whether privacy will exist in the 21st century.

    • Wisecrackers

      If you’re putting your faith in cryptography to protect your privacy, we have some garage-band hackers - who have been famously cracking, not creating, crypto - that we’d like you to meet.

    • Anonymously Yours – How to Launder Your E-mail

      You don’t have to wait for cryptography to secure complete anonymity on the Net. All you need is the address of a remailer. You say you don’t want to be identified?

    • The Open Secret

      Public key cryptography – the breakthrough that revolutionized email and ecommerce – was first discovered by American geeks. Right? Wrong. The story of the invention of public key cryptography is a cypherpunk sacred text: In 1976, an iconoclastic young hacker named Whitfi…

    • Clipper Chick

      Changing sides in the government’s war against piracy, Dorothy Denning went from hacker hero to one of the most hated people on the Net.

  • S1 E1: Donald McIntyre on Bitcoin, The Teachings of Tim May, Nick Szabo, and the History of Money

    In this season premiere, Donald McIntyre talks about the anthropological and historical elements that led to the creation of Bitcoin, and reveals his admiration and affinity for the works of Tim Ma…

  • Bitcoin, The Untold History - CryptoQuikRead_161
  • Patently Absurd

    One of the best-known patents in the computer industry is patent Number 4,405,829, “Cryptographic Communications System and Method,” the patent on RSA public-key cryptography. This patent, which expires on September 20, 2000, covers every implementation of RSA encryption in the United States. Because the algorithm is patented, it is a violation of US law for a company to write its own implementation of the RSA algorithm and use it without a license from Public Key Partners, the company that has an exclusive license to the patent from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the university where the algorithm was developed. It’s even illegal for a public-spirited citizen to write his or her own implementation of RSA and give it away.

  • What Happened to the Crypto Dream?, Part 1 - part 2 - 2013 Princeton University

    Steven Levy’s fascinating 2001 book Crypto has the subtitle How the Code Rebels Beat the Government, Saving Privacy in the Digital Age. The “code rebels”—a loose coalition of academics, hobbyists, and civil-liberties organizations—did indeed beat the government, causing the earlier restrictions on distribution of cryptographic tools to be largely abandoned. However, this victory seems to have done miserably little to save privacy. In fact, you might look at the early 2000s as the years when digital privacy took a nosedive. Why did Levy and many other observers get it so wrong back then?

Modern Crypto Wars

Cypherpunk Mailinglist

  • Cypherpunks, Bitcoin & the Myth of Satoshi Nakamoto (‘13)

    The Cypherpunks began properly in 1992 when Tim May, Eric Hughes and John Gilmore, started the Cypherpunks’ mailing list. But Jim Bell, David Chaum, Phil Zimmerman, Julian Assange, Adam Back, Wei-Dai and Hal Finney are just a few of the ciphers on the mailing list who are just now becoming luminaries, because they’ve all contributed something so uniquely valuable to us through their efforts to protect our privacy in the new information economy, particularly against the encroaching financial surveillance complex (typified by FATCA).\ Other names, like Tim-Berners Lee, John Perry Barlow and Nick Szabo also feature in this essay, as ‘Cypherpunks by proxy’ because of their contributions and their philosophy.

  • Wired - Crypto Rebels (‘93) - Deep Cut
  • Today In Infosec (@todayininfosec)

    1994: Code for the RC4 stream cipher, previously a trade secret, was anonymously posted to the Cypherpunks mailing list.

  • Hal Finney - RPOW - Reusable Proofs of Work - 2004

    Reusable Proof-of-Work (RPOW) was an invention by Hal Finney intended as a prototype for a digital cash based on Nick Szabo’s theory of collectibles. RPOW was a significant early step in the history of digital cash and was a precursor to Bitcoin. Although never intended to be more than a prototype, RPOW was a very sophisticated piece of software that would have been capable of serving a huge network, had it caught on.


  • https://github.com/tim54000/cypherpunk-cli
  • tim54000/cypherpunk-cli -A new-gen CLI tool for cypherpunk remailer.
  • mervyn-mccreight/remailer-seminar - Seminarausarbeitung zum Thema Remailer Typ I - III aus dem Wintersemester 15/16 an der FH-Wedel.

    Nutzer von einfachen anonymiserende bzw. pseudonymisierende Remailer wie anon.penet.fi konnten von den Behörden identizifiert werden, weil bei den Remailer-Betreibern eine Zuordnung zwischen pseudonymen und nicht-pseudonymen Email-Adressen vorlag. In Reaktion darauf wurden die Type I-Remailer (Cypherpunk-Remailer) entwickelt. Im Vortrag soll dieser Remailer-Typ und das Umfeld, in dem er entwickelt und genutzt wurde, vorgestellt werden. Der Vortrag soll auch erläutern, wie mittels Nym-Servern Pseudonymität zur Verfügung gestellt werden konnte. Type II (Mixmaster)- und Type III-Remailer sind weiterentwicklungen der Type I-Remailer. Im Vortrag soll die technische Funktionsweise dieser Remailer und ihre Geschichte erläutert werden. (Betreuer Prof. Dr. Gerd Beuster)



Prediction Markets

Crypto Anarchy

  • The Crypto Anarchist Manifesto - Timothy C. May tcmay@netcom.com

    A specter is haunting the modern world, the specter of crypto anarchy.

    Computer technology is on the verge of providing the ability for individuals and groups to communicate and interact with each other in a totally anonymous manner. Two persons may exchange messages, conduct business, and negotiate electronic contracts without ever knowing the True Name, or legal identity, of the other. Interactions over networks will be untraceable, via extensive re- routing of encrypted packets and tamper-proof boxes which implement cryptographic protocols with nearly perfect assurance against any tampering. Reputations will be of central importance, far more important in dealings than even the credit ratings of today. These developments will alter completely the nature of government regulation, the ability to tax and control economic interactions, the ability to keep information secret, and will even alter the nature of trust and reputation.

  • Crypto Anarchy, Cyberstates, and Pirate Utopias
  • Real Crypto-Anarchy Without Anonymity Oleg Andreev December 28, 2013

    Crypto-anarchy is not some crazy utopian ideology, but a very viable thing that unfolds in front of our eyes this very moment. The Internet and Bitcoin will soon allow people solve social problems in a novel way: instead of ancient formula “the strongest wins and beats the shit out of the loser” we all can achieve a peaceful society where both rich and poor, strong and weak can protect their property and freedom on more equal grounds without relying on violent institutions like governments.

  • Crypto Anarchy and Virtual Communities - The Art of Not Being Governed

    The combination of strong, unbreakable public key cryptography and virtual network communities in cyberspace will produce interesting and profound changes in the nature of economic and social systems. Crypto anarchy is the cyberspatial realization of anarcho-capitalism, transcending national boundaries and freeing individuals to make the economic arrangements they wish to make consensually.

    Strong cryptography, exemplified by RSA (a public key algorithm) and PGP (Pretty Good Privacy), provides encryption that essentially cannot be broken with all the computing power in the universe. This ensures security and privacy. Public key cryptography is rightly considered to be a revolution.

  • Cryptosovereignty

    Cryptosovereignty is the personal power, economic liberty, and political praxis that exist in bitcoin directly, crypto assets generally, and the internet widely. It is the power of any single human — no matter their station of birth, class of wealth, or creed of faith — to choose to put their economic, social, and political rights into a new digital common-wealth that is inviolable and beyond the power of any and all governments to violate


  • Bitcoin and the rise of the Cypherpunks by Jameson Lopp (‘16) - CryptoQuikRead_034
    • 1980s, Dr David Chaum
    • late 1992, Eric Hughes, Timothy C May, and John Gilmore founded cypherpunks
    • The Cypherpunks mailing list was formed, and a few months later, Eric Hughes published “A Cypherpunk’s Manifesto“.

      “Privacy is necessary for an open society in the electronic age. Privacy is not secrecy. A private matter is something one doesn’t want the whole world to know, but a secret matter is something one doesn’t want anybody to know. Privacy is the power to selectively reveal oneself to the world.”

    • Notable Cypherpunks:
      • Jacob Appelbaum: Tor developer
      • Julian Assange: Founder of WikiLeaks
      • Dr Adam Back: Inventor of Hashcash, co-founder of Blockstream
      • Bram Cohen: Creator of BitTorrent
      • Hal Finney: Main author of PGP 2.0, creator of Reusable Proof of Work
      • Tim Hudson: Co-author of SSLeay, the precursor to OpenSSL
      • Paul Kocher: Co-author of SSL 3.0
      • Moxie Marlinspike: Founder of Open Whisper Systems (developer of Signal)
      • Steven Schear: Creator of the concept of the “warrant canary”
      • Bruce Schneier: Well-known security author
      • Zooko Wilcox-O’Hearn: DigiCash developer, Founder of Zcash
      • Philip Zimmermann: Creator of PGP 1.0
    • In 1997, Dr Adam Back created Hashcash
    • Later in 1998, Wei Dai published a proposal for “b-money”,
  • Early Cypherpunks - cryptoanarchy.wiki
    • Adam Back - 90s Cypherpunk, Inventor of HashCash, CEO of Blockstream
    • David D. Friedman - Son of Milton, Anarcho-Capitalist theorist, Not a Cypherpunk but “Crypto-Anarchy” draws a lot from his work
    • Eric Hughes - Founding member of the Cypherpunk Mailing List,
    • Gregory Maxwell - Bitcoin Core Developer, Blockstream CTO, Controversial figure to the Big Block political faction
    • Hal Finney - 90s Cypherpunk, Received first Bitcoin transaction (from Satoshi), Strong candidate for Satoshi
    • Ian Grigg - 90s Cypherpunk, Inventor of Ricardian Contracts
    • Jim Bell - 90s Cypherpunk, Crypto-anarchist, Author of Assassination Politics
    • John Gilmore - Co-founder of the Cypherpunk Mailing List and the Electronic Frontier Foundation
    • John Perry Barlow - 90s Cypherpunk, Author of “A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace”
    • Julian Assange - Founder of Wikileaks, Member of Cypherpunk Mailing List in its heyday
    • Nick Szabo - 90s Cypherpunk, Creator of Bitcoin Precursor BitGold, Prolific writer of many important papers, Strong candidate for Satoshi
    • Paul Calder Le Roux - Author of E4M disk-encryption software, Suspected author of TrueCrypt, Former criminal empire boss (in a very Crypto-Anarchist sense), DEA informant, Currently in US Custody
    • Phil Zimmermann - Author of the Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) Public key encryption software
    • Pieter Wuille - Bitcoin Core Developer, Holds the number 2 spot on the bitcoin/bitcoin contributors list (2018-05-28), Blockstream co-founder
    • Satoshi Nakamoto - Pseudonymous Founder of Bitcoin, May be a person or group, Many people put forward as possible candidates, Very probably the alias of a 90s Cypherpunk
    • Timothy C. May - Founding member of Cypherpunk Mailing List, writer of “The Crypto-Anarchist Manifesto” and the “Cyphernomicon” (mailing list FAQ)
    • Vinay Gupta - 90s Cypherpunk, Inventor of the Hexayurt, Resilience Guru, Involved with Ethereum
    • Wei Dai - 90s Cypherpunk, Cryptographer, Creator of Bitcoin-precursor B-Money
  • THE CYPHERNOMICON: Cypherpunks FAQ and More - 1994 - Tim May[ϟ]
    • The Cypherpunks have existed since September, 1992. In that time, a vast amount has been written on cryptography, key escrow, Clipper, the Net, the Information Superhighway, cyber terrorists, and crypto anarchy. We have found ourselves (or placed ourselves) at the center of the storm.
    • This FAQ may help to fill in some gaps about what we’re about, what motivates us, and where we’re going. And maybe some useful knowledge on crypto, remailers, anonymity, digital cash, and other interesting things.
  • Activism: Cypherpunks
  • Jameson Lopp (@lopp)

    The cost of maintaining one’s privacy continues to rise as the cost of surveillance technology continues to fall. Most folks have neither the time nor the money to properly protect their privacy these days. Cypherpunks are the intolerant minority, the Spartans defending th…

  • Cypherpunk Essentials: A Beginner’s Guide to Crypto Privacy

    The following op-ed on crypto privacy was written by Reuben Yap. He is the Chief Operations Officer of Zcoin. A corporate lawyer for ten years, specializing in institutional frameworks, Reuben founded one of SE Asia’s top VPN companies, bolehvpn.net. He graduated with a LLB from the University of Nottingham.

    One of blockchain’s most notable and valued features is its transparency. In the original Bitcoin whitepaper, Satoshi Nakamoto described bitcoin as an ‘electronic coin’ with a ‘chain of digital signatures’, the history of ownership documented permanently and publicly. This idea of globally accessible financial records is a bold move away from the traditional banking system. This is precisely why privacy is an essential topic within the crypto ecosystem.

  • The Untold History of Bitcoin, Enter The Cypherpunks - CryptoQuikRead_162

    In my previous article I addressed the underlying technologies that blockchain runs and the history behind how it all started. The primary focus of that article was the development of PGP encryption by Phil Zimmermann, the wonder of open source software and peer-to-peer networks that are almost impossible to stop. But how did all the pieces come together to ultimately create what we know today as Bitcoin?

  • Nick Szabo 🔑 (@NickSzabo4)

    My bit gold design in 1998 was 2-layer: bit gold for settlement, Chaumian e-cash for a privacy-enhanced payments layer. I’ve always thought of Bitcoin as evolving into a settlements-and-large-payments layer that in the long term needed a layer 2 for consumer payments.

  • Cypherpunks and the failure of the Centralized Web
  • The Crypto-Anarchists by Brian Zuzga (‘94)
  • Privacy-enhancing technologies for the Internet by Ian Goldberg David Wagner Eric Brewer (‘96)

    The increased use of the Internet for everyday activities is bringing new threats to personal privacy. This paper gives an overview of existing and potential privacy enhancing technologies for the Internet, as well as motivation and challenges for future work in this field

  • R.I.P. Cypherpunks (‘01)
  • RU Sirius on the history of cypherpunk
  • Cypherpunks Write Code ϟ (‘15)
  • An Introduction to the Cypherpunk Tale
  • Donald McIntyre ☣️🗑️ (@TokenHash)

    No. There were hundreds of cypherpunks with different goals, ideologies and world views. • Digicash was the “payments”. • RPOW, then BitGold were the “store of value + payments” (which are inseparable). The latter were the correct models and Bitcoin is designed afte…

  • Nick Szabo 🔑 @NickSzabo4

    The whole idea of having an independent currency, rather than just more private or censorship resistant payments for existing currencies, didn’t exist among either cypherpunks or academic cryptographers until libertarian futurists introduced it.

  • Roger Ver (@rogerkver)

    I just helped Neal Stephenson, author of Cryptonomicon, setup his first Bitcoin wallet thanks to @blockchain

  • The Cypherpunks and Bitcoin. The years before bitcointalk.

Video \ Audio


What follows is a list of books that were influential upon early cypherpunks. As time goes on, I’ll add more modern material. Also, Cypherpunk is an offshoot of Cyberpunk, as such, there is much overlapp in the culture and cyberpunk literature should be of interest to those delving into the cypherpunk mythos.

  • Cyberpunk and Cyberculture: Science Fiction and the Work of William Gibson. ^^^ Really excellent literary review!

  • Tony “ABOLISH ICE” Arcieri (@bascule)

    William Gibson - The Bridge Trilogy (feels apropos in smoke-filled SF) Bruce Sterling - Schismatrix / Mirrorshades / Islands in the Net Charles Stross - Accelerando Rudy Rucker (the Elder) - The Ware Tetraology (a bit different from the rest but) Aldous Huxley - Brave New World

  • The cypherpunk revolution

    Thomas Rid, cybersecurity expert and author of “Rise of the Machines,” chronicles the early history of cypherpunks and how they helped turn public-key cryptography into one of the most potent political ideas of the 21st century.

  • The First True Cypherpunk Novel - Neal Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon

    RANDY WATERHOUSE AND his cypherpunk business partners are about to do what everyone else has only talked about: open the first true offshore data haven on a remote Pacific atoll.

    If they can launch a new electronic currency backed by a few hundred metric tons of Nazi gold, well, that’s an even more efficient way to wreck those antediluvian nation states.

    Waterhouse’s problem? Not everyone agrees the gold stash should be his. One other thing: He doesn’t quite know where to find it.

  • Crypto, by Steven Levy - Pre-History from the 50’s up to the cypherpunk era.
  • May’s Recommended readings, from cyphernomicon.
    • 1984 by George Orwell ‘49 
    • Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand ‘57
    • Machinery of Freedom by David Friedman ‘73
    • The Shockwave Rider by John Brunner ‘75
    • True Names by Vernor Vinge ‘81
    • Security without Identification: Transaction Systems to Make Big Brother Obsolete ‘85
    • Advances in Cryptology by Gilles Brassard ‘90
    • Snow Crash, Neil Stephenson ‘92
    • Applied Cryptography by Bruce Schneier ‘93
  • Cyberspace Crypto-Anarchy and Pushing Limits — Tim May

    many of us have found Vernor Vinge’s “True Names” to be an excellent (and quickly readable) treatment of how things could work in a world of fast, cheap, and secure communication. Other writers have seen things differently (e.g., “Shockwave Rider,” “1984,”,”Snow Crash”). \

  • The Essential Cyberpunk Reading List ‘15
  • Neuromancer by William Gibson
  • Cryptonomicon - Neil Stephenson
  • Digital Currency: ten years before Bitcoin, Neal Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon

    Since the Cyprus crisis, download of Bitcoin apps has exploded. What is a digital currency? Ten years before Bicoin was invented, Neal Stephenson gives us a foretaste in Cryptonomicon.

  • The Diamond Age - Neil Stephenson
  • Cypherpunk book recommendations

    I’ve been on a sci-fi kick for a while and recently picked up Snow Crash. Fantastic so far and it made me wonder what other cypher/cyber punk novels are out there that the ethereum community might recommend. So… anyone have any recommendations on what to read next?

  • A History of Cryptography and the Rise of the CypherPunks #Reading_list

    An excellent history of public-key cryptography and the Cypherpunk Phenomena appears in The cypherpunk revolution a Christian Science Monitor project from July 2016.

    The best history of digital cash is Cryptocurrency: How Bitcoin and the Blockchain Are Challenging the Global Economic Order by Michael J. Casey and Paul Vigna. Sadly that book; which appeared in 2015 is already dated, but it is still an eye opener.

    There are many excellent books about cryptography and codebreaking in World War II. One of the best is Code Girls by Liza Mundy, which explores the origins of the NSA and American cryptography. Still worth reading is Ronald Lewin’s Ultra Goes to War: The Secret Story; which first publicized the role encryption played in World War II back in 1977.

  • Eric Meltzer (@wheatpond)

    Must read scifi for crypto people, will add to this (and please reply with your own recs!) William Gibson: Sprawl trilogy and Bridge Trilogy Neal Stephenson: Diamond Age, Snow Crash, Cryptonomicon Bruce Sterling: Mirrorshades shorts collection

Cypherpunk books - goodreads


  • This Machine Kills Secrets: How WikiLeakers, Cypherpunks, and Hacktivists Aim to Free the World’s Information, by Andy Greenberg ‘12

Distributed Systems

Leslie Lamport, one of the fathers of the field of distributed systems, once famously said,

A distributed system is one in which the failure of a computer you didn’t even know existed can render your own computer unusable.

This quote encapsulates why it is so difficult to design distributed systems. Each node in the system is part of the larger network and relies on communicating with other nodes in order to get something done. The abundance of moving pieces makes these systems some of the hardest to develop. However, the benefits of being able to use the power of many computers linked together motivated decades of computer scientists to research ways to overcome these challenges.

  • The Origin of Blockchains - What is a Distributed System?
    • FLP Impossibility (1985)
    • CAP Theorem (1999)
    • Paxos (1989)
    • Practical BFT (1999)
    • Byzantine Paxos (2010)
    • Raft (2014)
    • PoW - Bitcoin



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Cypherpunk Early Internet