To accept one’s past – one’s history – is not the same thing as drowning in it; it is learning how to use it. An invented past can never be used; it cracks and crumbles under the pressures of life like clay in a season of drought.
― James Baldwin
Over the 15 years I’ve authored this site I’ve kept a low profile. I preferred to draw attention to the people who made up the actual Dayton code-breaking project. I’m now comfortable in writing a bit more about my history and association with this story.
The Research Director of the US Naval Computing Machine Laboratory was my father, Joseph Desch (or as nearly everyone around him called him, Joe). I am the only child of Joe and Dorothy Desch, born in 1950. As those who have heard me speak about this topic or who have read the story as written by Jim DeBrosse, know that at the time of my father’s death in 1987 I had only curiosity and a few clues, not much else. He had maintained a strict loyalty to the many Oaths of Secrecy he took in early in the years leading to World War II. Fortunately, however, my father had dropped many hints–all vague and some even misleading–in the years I spent listening to his stories.
Because of a fledgeling curiousity whether there was anything to my father’s teasings, and spurred on by his colleagues and then the project veterans, I’ve spent these last 25 years tracking down leads, visiting libraries and the National Archives, and more. In late 2001 I launched this web site. As a result I’ve learned that I love web site construction, maintenance and migration (e.g., HTML to PHP, WordPress, etc.). I probably never would have pursued this topic were it not to launch and maintain the Dayton Codebreakers website. In addition my background in both the sciences and the liberal arts helped me spend hours reading military, mathematical and technological history.
I can be reached by email. I cannot guarantee a speedy reply. However, gentle reminders are not discouraged.
- 1972-1973 Graduate Studies in English Literature, The Ohio State University August 1971
- Bachelor of Arts, magna cum laude, University of Dayton, 1971
- Archbishop Alter High School, Kettering, Ohio class of 1968
- PUBLICATIONS, PRESENTATIONS, EVENTS
- “The US Bombes, NCR, Joseph Desch and 600 WAVES: The First Reunion of the US Naval Computing Machine Laboratory,” Spring 2000, IEEE Journal Annals of the History of Computing , John A. N. Lee, Colin Burke and Deborah Anderson.
- Presentation, 4 May 2012, IEEE-USA Annual Meeting, Cincinnati OH
- Presentation, International Cryptologic Symposium, Charlotte NC, March 2012
- Presentation, 14 Sept 2010, Society of American Military Engineers, at the Nat’l Museum of the US Air Force, Dayton OH
- Presentation, IEEE NAECON Nat’l Aerospace and Electronic Conference, July 16, 2010
- Presentation, Friday October 19, 2007 at National Cryptologic Museum Foundation History Conference, Fort Meade, Maryland
- Talk, October 17, 2007, The National Archives, Washington DC, sponsored by the Records Book Group
- Initiator and Organizer, the First Reunion of the National Cryptologic Machine Laboratory (50th Anniversary of same); Dayton, Ohio, September 1995
- Initiated and sponsored the IEEE Oral Histories with 7 of the surviving engineers for the IEEE History Center
- Initiated the process for the Milestones in Engineering recognition of the NCML in 2001
- Organizer, Second Reunion of the NCML; Dayton, Ohio, October 2001
Statement: I grew up in a home filled with the stories and artifacts of an engineer in the early-mid 20th century.. At my father’s death I fell heir to his important collection of documents related to his career before and during World War II. These tools helped me investigate and understand the importance of my father’s secret work in World War 2. I then realized that the Dayton community deserved to learn the story of my father and his team; that surviving veterans deserved to have their stories recorded; that families living in the “classified” world deserved support. I have worked to promote the importance of technology in the past, present and future.