Codes, ciphers and spycraft are not a new invention. Throughout history statesmen and women have sought to use them to acquire and use power. The forerunners of BOSS,including the soldiers of the ancient world, the spies of Tudor England and the European armies of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, were active in developing many of the tools still used by BOSS today. For a glimpse of the ancient world, take a look at our training module BOSS2017: The Lost Legion, which is based on classical records kept in the agency archives.
The forerunner of BOSS was a secret group of Victorian mathematicians, scientists and inventors who worked together to protect society from the large number of criminal and diplomatic conspiracies that plagued the age. They included Ada Lovelace, Charles Babbage and Charles Wheatstone, whose public work led directly to the internet as we know it today. Outside the agency their secret work is unknown, but BOSS files show that they were active in developing secret ciphers of their own, and that their skill in breaking others was key to saving lives and preventing war on several occasions.
In the early modern period a number of Victorian and Edwardian, explorers and adventurers continued the work of the pioneers, establishing networks of agents across the world. At this time the most active were often young women, breaking free of the confines of society to make major contributions to knowledge and security. The most famous was Agatha Highfield, an Edwardian adventurer known for her expertise in antiquities and believed by many to have died when the Titanic sank on 10th April 1912. The true story is hidden in BOSS archives 2003. The outbreak of the Great War in 1914 changed everything leading to a period of decline for the old Empires, poverty and friction between states. The war to end all wars turned out to be just the beginning.
It was in the run up to the Second World War that the Bureau of Security and Signals Intelligence was formally established. Building on the network of professors and agents developed by the pioneers, it was an international collaboration established to fight the growing threat of Facism. It had no hierarchy, just a loose confederation of motivated individuals working for the common good. With members from the Polish Academy and UK and US Universities it was well placed to support the Allies as they formed a coalition against evil. Harry was one of its founder members and was deeply involved in both the war and its aftermath.
As the shape of the world changed in the years following the war, Harry and his friends were deeply involved, keeping peace and supporting the Allies as they struggled to meet the challenges of the Cold War. With rapid changes in society and the rapid development of new technologies, they were forced to developed new tools that the West needed to break its enemies’ encryption, and helped to prevent the outbreak of conflict across the regions. The dawn of the space race saw the beginning of cooperation across the divide, but the Cold War had many years left to run. A key case from this period was BOSS2019: Countdown to Catastrophe
Centuries of conflict shaped the modern world, and despite major improvements in diplomacy, and a rapid increase in inter-dependence of the economies across the globe, old enmities bubbled underneath the surface. Major wars were no longer a feature of life, but many lives were lost in significant regional battles, and organisations like BOSS, played an important role in preventing these from boiling over into another world war. Key cases from this period include BOSS2016: Fighting Gravity, BOSS2018: The Kompromat Files and BOSS2019: Countdown to Catastrophe
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