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RanData
Ran Data Corporation Ltd.

Ran Data Corporation, commonly abbreviated to RanData or RDC, was an Australian technology and mining company, that existed from 13 December 1984 to 26 July 1990. The company was initially established by the Italian entrepreneur A.J. Monte Sala. In the mid-1980s, the electronics company was involved in the development of graphics display systems and encryption devices.

 RanData encryption devices

RanData logo as used by GSA Technology Pty Ltd.


History
Amadeo Monte Sala was born in 1928 1 in Trieste (Italy) and migrated to Australia in 1950 at the age of 22. Three years later, he married wis wife Lydia by proxy, and eventually arranged for her to join him later. They had four sons. After the initial drudgery period and a false start as a miner, he moved from Victoria to Western Australia and found work at the Philips plant in Perth. His interest in electronics was born and he did some pioneering work on spot scanners for television.

Leaving Philips, he became computer engineer at AWA. In 1960, Australia agreed with the United States to establish tracking stations for NASA's Gemini space program (later followed by the Apollo space program), and Monte Sala joined as Digital Command System (DCS) engineer at the Carnarvon tracking station [4]. He eventually became the lab manager. According to Sala, Carnarvon was a turning point in his career [3].

In 1966, he became operations manager at the computing centre of the University of Western Australia (UWA), where he worked with the first DEC PDP-6 computers. He became known for his ability to turn theoretical problems into practical solutions. He developed modems for connecting remote terminals to the PDP-6 - quite unique for the time – but was unable to obtain approval. 2
  
Amadeo Monte Sala standing on the fountain that he designed and built, at NASA's Carnarvon Tracking Station. Photograph via National Archives of Australia [2].

When his colleague Dennis Moore — whilst working for the Austrialian Government — expressed his concern about security and privacy issues, Monte Sala developed a low-cost encryption device that was supported by the Research Institute of Austrialia. In 1982, Dennis Moore went to New York to raise venture capital, after which Sala set up a new company – Ran Data Pye Ltd – which was headed by his son Rodd. 3 The encryption devices were further developed and taken into production, and were eventually used in the SWIFT network for secure financial transactions [7].

Ran Data Corporation
In 1984 Ran Data Pty Ltd was bought by Caris Corporation Limited — a juwellery and mining conglomerate — when the latter acquired 78% of the shares for no less that AU$ 7.25 million, which is quite remarkable considering that the company's assets were valued at just AU$ 750,000 at the time. Apparently, the investors saw great potential in the emerging computer and digital encryption market. At the same time, Caris Corporation was renamed Ran Data Corporation [6].

American intervention
Pressure was put on Australia — presumably from the United States NSA and/or the CIA — not to allow export of Sala's encryption device, as it was considered too strong for the international intelligence agencies. According to his former colleague Dennis Moore, Sala was once stopped at the airport when he was about to take one of his encryption devices to Pakistan [5].

In 1987, RanData was about to form a joint venture with the Swiss manufacturer of encryption devices Crypto AG (Hagelin). Crypto AG's general manager Heinz Wagner had just signed the deal, when the real owners of the company — the American CIA and the German BND — intervened [8]. As RanData was not under the control of the Defence Signals Directorate (DSD) – the Australian crypto­logic organisation – the deal had to be cancelled. Furthermore, the CIA didn't like his style. According to the CIA files: "President/founder known to react irrationally when disappointed in business overtures" — Monte Sala had a habit of suing anyone who crossed his path [8].

Demise
Eaerlier in 1978, RanData had run into controversy. The company was under investigation of stock manipulation and Australian business circles suspected Monte Sala of looting the company [8]. Monte Sala subsequently abandonned ship and went on to develop other inventions in his new company – DSA – of which all his four sons were directors. The RanData product line was acquired by GSA Technology – a division of GSA Industries in Victoria (Australia) – who continued to sell telephone encryptors. Ran Data Corporation Ltd. was eventually renamed Roycol Ltd., and still exists under this name today. Amadeo Monte Sala died in Perth (Australia) on 1 April 2002.

  1. The date of birth is currently unknown (the year may also be 1927).
  2. Like in most countries at the time, the state-owned telecom monopolist blocked any alien devices.
  3. Rodd Sala was Director and General Manager of Ran Data from 1982 until 1989.

Ownership
The diagram below shows the ownership of the RanData assets. At the left, shown in blue, is Monte Sala's initial company Ran Data Pty Ltd, which was absorbed in 1984 in the big Caris Corporation on the right (shown in yellow) and sold off again to GSA Technology Ltd. in 1990.


In 1984, Caris Corporation was renamed Ran Data Corporation, after the company had acquired 78% of the shares of Monte Sala's original company Ran Data Pty Ltd. Following the investigation for stock manipulation in 1987, the RanData assets were sold in 1990 to GSA Technology Ltd. and the corporation was renamed Roycol Limited. Roycol went on in the mining business.


References
  1. deListed Australia, Ran Data Corporation Limited
    Retrieved December 2019.

  2. National Archives of Austrialia, One small step for man
    NAA: A12111m 1/1966/16/102. Retrieved December 2019.

  3. Philip Rennie, Inventor Chases an Image Boost
    16 January 1995.

  4. Wikipedia, Carnarvon Tracking Station
    Retrieved December 2019.

  5. Julia Wallis, Interview with Dennis Moore
    Oral History. 5 and 12 July 2013.

  6. P.D. Jack, The low fliers of high technology
    The Sydney Morning Herald, 24 October 1984, p. 57.

  7. Wikipedia, Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication
    Retrieved December 2019.

  8. Crypto Museum, Operation RUBICON
    February 2020.
Further information
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Crypto Museum. Created: Thursday 12 December 2019. Last changed: Saturday, 25 April 2020 - 08:28 CET.
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