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NSA Historical Figures

Howard E. Rosenblum

2003 Hall of Honor Inductee

Howard Rosenblum probably had as much effect on the development, application, and fielding of secure speech equipments as any other single person in the post-World War II communications security (COMSEC) community in the United States.

He graduated from the City College of New York with a BSEE in 1950 and immediately went to work for the Department of Defense at the Naval Research Laboratory. In 1953, he came to NSA and worked in Research and Development, specializing in COMSEC design. After some field assignments and short stints with contracting firms, Mr. Rosenblum returned to NSA in 1962. He headed the Secure Speech Division that was designing a series of early vocoder systems meant to secure both strategic and tactical government and military speech communications.

On the tactical side, Mr. Rosenblum's division developed and fielded secure speech equipment for short-range military field radios such as the KY-8 (NESTOR). This was needed urgently by U.S. forces in Vietnam to provide security against an opponent fully capable of exploiting unprotected U.S. communications.

Mr. Rosenblum's research division was responsible for the conceptualization and design of follow-on secure speech systems that are prevalent today. His division's research into digital conversion allowed for development of the Secure Telephone Unit (STU) family of systems used throughout the federal government. Mr. Rosenblum was personally responsible for developing the concept of the key distribution center that enabled any user to establish individually-secure telephone calls within the network of STU users. In 1983, Mr. Rosenblum was awarded a patent for the concept of the key distribution center.

In 1971, Mr. Rosenblum was appointed Director of Research and Engineering. From 1978 to his retirement in 1983, he was Deputy Director for Communications Security. In 1971, he received the NSA Exceptional Civilian Service Award, NSA's highest civilian award. Mr. Rosenblum passed away in 1996.

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