Gretag or Gretacoder Data Systems
was a manufacturer of cryptographic equipment, based in Regensdorf
near Zürich (Switzerland).
It was led by Dr. Edgar Gretener who was not only a direct competitor
of Boris Hagelin, but also worked with him
in a number of projects. The company operated world-wide and had
once over 2500 people on its payroll.
Over the years, Gretag produced a range of commercial, industrial and
military cipher machines.
The company changed hands several times
and was finally dissolved in 2004 when it was owned by
Many of its patents were taken over by Omnisec,
who are still in business today.
Gretag cipher machines
1943: Dr. Edgar Gretener AG
Gretag AG started life around 1943, when its founder, Dr. Edgar Gretener
established Dr. Edgar Gretener AG in Zürich (Switzerland). Gretener
was one of the inventors of the famous Eidophor large
screen video projector that was marketed by his company.
He would later become famous for a series of hi-tech cipher machines
and for his wide range of colour image processing equipment for the
1946: Development of cryptographic equipment
In 1946, the company started the development of cryptographic equipment.
During the 1950s, an advanced wheel-based electro-mechanical cipher
machine, called TC-53 was developed for the Swiss Army.
It would turn out to be the first in a long range of cipher machines.
1958: Gretag AG
After Dr. Edgar Gretener's untimely death on 21 October 1958,
the company was taken over by the Swiss chemical company CIBA Holding AG
who changed the name to Gretag AG. Dr. Robert Käppeli, one of Gretener's
finiancial backups, became the new director .
1991: AT&T Gretag Data Systems AG
For many years, the company traded as Gretag AG and produced a wide
range of cipher machines, ranging from electro-mechanical devices to
advanced fully-electronic on-line crypto equipment.
In the early 1990s, the crypto part of the company was split-off and
was acquired by AT&T Intl.
(part of AT&T Inc, USA)
They continued as Gretag Data Systems AG.
Most products developed during this era carried the brand name Gretacoder
but AT&T was also used.
1995: Gretacoder Data Systems
In October 1995, the company was acquired by Information Resource Engineering
Inc. (IRE) and the name was changed to Gretacoder Data Systems AG.
Gretag, which had a turnover of $7 million in 1994,
was bought for approx. $4 million .
Many new cipher machines were produced during this period and all
products would carry the Gretacoder name.
2002: SafeNet Data Systems
In 1999 the owner of the company, IRE, was renamed to
Safenet Inc. (after its VPN product line)
and a few years later, in 2002, Gretacoder was
renamed to Safenet Data Systems AG
Despite the fact that SafeNet injected significant new capital,
the company did not survive. Finally, late 2004, the Board of Directors
announced immediate liquidation of the company.
Since then, most of Gretacoder's patents have been taken over by
the Swiss crypto manufacturer Omnisec AG,
a company that was established by two former Gretag employees.
Omnisec was initially also located in Regensdorf but has since
been moved to Dällikon (see address below).
Gretag, or Gretacoder Data Systems AG, is no longer in business but some of
their activities have been taken over by Omnisec,
a company that was
established by two former Gretag employees. Support for old
Gretag equipment is non-existent however. The last known addresses are:
- Dr. Edgar Gretener AG (1943)
- Gretag AG (1946)
- Gretacoder Data Systems AG (1995)
- SafeNet Data Systems AG (2002-2004)
- Omnisec AG
- Ulrich Rimensberger, Datensicherung durch Chiffrierung
Description of the Gretacoder 515, published at the 5th International
Congress for Data Processing in Europe. Vienna, 21-25 March 1977.
- Gretacoder Data Systems AG. Gretacoder 650, High-Speed Link Encryptor.
2-page sales brochure. August 2000.
- Gretacoder Data Systems AG. Gretacoder 545, X.25 Data Encryption.
4-page sales brochure. April 1997.
- The Free Library, IRE Acquired Gretag Data Systems AG
11 June 1995, Retrieved march 2012.
- Dr. John H. Nugent, Curriculum Vitae
Member of Board of Directors at AT&T Gretag 1991-1993.
31 March 2007. p. 6.
Retrieved march 2012.
- Business Wire, SafeNet to Expand and Strengthen European Operations...
Business Library website. Retrieved July 2012.
- Wikipedia Germany, Edgar Gretener
Retrieved May 2013.
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