Archives acquires papers of Martin Hellman

December 18, 2013
Daniel Hartwig
Martin Hellman

The University Archives is pleased to announce that it has acquired the papers of Martin E. Hellman, emeritus professor of electrical engineering at Stanford and a recent inductee into the select group of eminent faculty and alumni known Stanford Engineering Heroes.

Martin Edward Hellman was born in New York, NY in October 1945. He received his B.E. from New York University in 1966, and his M.S. and Ph.D. from Stanford University in 1967 and 1969, all in Electrical Engineering.

Prof. Hellman was at IBM's Watson Research Center from 1968-1969 and an Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering at MIT from 1969-1971. Returning to Stanford in 1971, he served on the regular faculty until becoming Professor Emeritus in 1996. He has authored over seventy technical papers, ten US patents and a number of foreign equivalents.

Hellman is best known for his invention, with Whit Diffie and Ralph Merkle, of public key cryptography. In addition to many other uses, this technology forms the basis for secure transactions on the Internet. He has also been a long-time contributor to the computer security debate, starting with the issue of the Data Encryption Standard (DES) key size in 1975, serving (1994-1996) on the National Research Council's Committee to Study National Cryptographic Policy, and currently serving on Verified Voting's Board of Advisors.

Prof. Hellman also has a deep interest in the ethics of technological development. With Prof. Anatoly Gromyko of Moscow, he co-edited Breakthrough: Emerging New Thinking, a book published simultaneously in Russian and English in 1987 during the rapid change in Soviet-American relations. His current project in this area, Defusing the Nuclear Threat, has been endorsed by a number of prominent individuals including a former Director of the National Security Agency, Stanford's President Emeritus, and two Nobel Laureates.

The Hellman papers consist of research files, subject files, publications and correspondence documenting public key cryptography and the Beyond War project that both he and his wife were involved in during the mid 1980s.

Here is a recent video of professor Hellman discussing cryptography:

Hellman's 2013 Hero lecture, entitled "The Wisdom of Foolishness" can be viewed here: