Horst Feistel

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Horst Feistel (born January 30, 1915 in Berlin ; † November 14, 1990 ) was a German-American cryptologist. He became known as the namesake of the so-called Feistel cipher .


Feistel emigrated to the United States in 1934 and spent most of World War II under house arrest . On January 31, 1944, he was granted American citizenship .

The very next day he began developing friend-foe detection systems at the Air Force Cambridge Research Center (AFCRC). He then worked at the MIT Lincoln Laboratory , for the MITER research institute and finally, from the late 1960s, for IBM . Feistel completed his physics studies at MIT with a bachelor's degree and at Harvard with a master's degree .

He worked with others on the so-called " Lucifer " project , the aim of which was to develop an efficient encryption technology. The Feistel cipher was later the basis for DES .

Feistel had been married to Leona Gage since 1945. The couple had a daughter, Peggy.


  • Whitfield Diffie , Susan Landau (1998). Privacy on the Line: The Politics of Wiretapping and Encryption .
  • Steven Levy . Crypto: How the Code Rebels Beat the Government — Saving Privacy in the Digital Age , 2001.