Welcome

Dedicated to those who worked in Building 26, 1942-1946

The mission of this site is to tell the story of hundreds of people who worked at the United States Naval Computing Machine Laboratory, a top secret project in Dayton during World War Two. These people kept their secret for over fifty years. They produced machines which were crucial to the war effort and helped to save the lives of tens of thousands of troops, on land and sea, around the world.

Please take a look–there are hundreds of pages of declassified documents, rosters of personnel, photographs and more. (An easy way to check this out is to visit the Sitemap page.) I have added a new bibliography page brought up to date to include burgeoning information about cryptography on the web.

This site originates with and is maintained by Debbie Anderson in Dayton, Ohio. My father was Joseph Desch, Research Director for the NCML. This site is an outgrowth of my own efforts to learn more about the story behind my father’s secret work and a desire to share what I have learned. It also is a resource for the facts behind the documentary Dayton Codebreakers.

I am grateful to the Archive Center at Dayton History, the Wenger Command Display in Pensacola, Florida, friends at the NSA Cryptologic History Center and the National Cryptologic Museum, and the many veterans–WAVES and sailors– who have been so generous over the years for a share of the photographs presented here.

Thanks for learning about a part of Dayton’s, and the nation’s, history.

Launched 2001


Duty is action, taken after listening to one’s leaders and weighing risk and fear against the powerful draw of obligation to family, community, nation, and the unknown future. We, the progeny who live in that future, were among the intended beneficiaries of those frightful decisions made so long ago. As such, we are also the caretakers of the memory, and the reputation of those who performed their duty–as they understood it–under circumstances too difficult for us ever to fully comprehend.

James Webb, Born Fighting, 2004


A popular page on my site, The US Navy Cryptanalytic Bombe, now with new photos and a link to a bombe simulator.

Excellent update of a page at Virmuze [network of Virtual Museums] about the US Bombe with information about some components.

Watch a YouTube video about the US Navy Cryptanalytic Bombe from the Nat’l Crypto Museum

Redone page of Cryptanalytic Equipment in operation at Nebraska Avenue, linked to full-size photos

July 2021, update on Dayton Codebreakers DVDs

DVDs are once again going to be available locally, off the shelf. The Museum Store at Carillon Park is open once again. The Store keeps the DVD in stock. Also re-opening and re-stocking is the book store at the Wright Dunbar Interpretive Center, West Third Street. Those who are out of the region can reach me at this link.


I missed an important anniversary this summer. Luckily the Nat’l Crypto Museum didn’t. Read the story: D-Day and Ultra

Again, I missed recognizing Aug. 14th as Navajo Code Talkers Day, but again the NCM didn’t. See their Navajo Code Talkers recognition.

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  • Sources

    © Deborah Anderson. Use of materials by permission. This site has material from many sources. Some are use by permission. Before using, ASK. More specific information here.
  • INSIDE YOU’LL FIND …

    WHO worked during the war? Find the Personnel section. Also, Joseph R. Desch
    WHAT were their goals? By the Numbers. Also, The US Bombe
    WHY? History of the Bombe Project A contemporary account of the reasons and the plans for their project for the Director of Naval Communications, 1944.
    WHERE was the project: In Dayton, it was in Building 26. In Washington, it was housed at the Naval Communications Annex
  • Contemporary Code Breaking

    Cracking the code, from ABC News. How is code breaking used these days? What kind of mind do you need to have to be a code breaker? Or can computers do it all? Phillip Clark took a look.
  • Crypto Dictionary published

    Crypto Dictionary, book review at ZDNet: A useful AZ of cryptography definitions Crypto Dictionary covers standards, conferences, key websites, historical references and anecdotes ...