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Tele Security Timmann

TeleSecurity Timmann, abbreviated Timmann or TST, was a developer and manufacturer of cryptographic equipment founded in 1940 in Tutzing (Germany). The company produced a wide range of electronic cipher equipment, for governments, police forces and large corporations, both foreign and domestic. Since the 1970s, the company's cryptographic algorithms were controlled by the German Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) and the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) [7]. Following the untimely death of its founder in 2002, the company was dissolved in 2009.

 Cipher Machines developed by TeleSecurity Timmann (TST)

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TST was established in the 1970s by Klaus-Peter Timmann (14 July 1940 - 10 January 2002) [1]. The company specialized in high-end electronic solutions for secure communications. Although some of their products were based on existing host devices, such as the early EPSON and TRS-80 computers, all encryption extensions and, more importantly, the encryption algorithms, were developed in-house, mainly by the owner: Electronics Engineer Klaus-Peter Timmann.

The initial TST company logo. It was later replaced by the more STS logo shown at the top.

Klaus-Peter Timmann
Klaus-Peter Timmann was educated as an Electronics Engineer (Dipl.-Ing.) and had specialised in communications electronics. During the 1970s he worked for Collins Radio (later: Rockwell Collins), a big American company that specialized in transceivers for the aviation industry, the American space program (e.g. SkyLab), broadcast transmitters and even Amateur Radio sets.

During WWII, Collins was a supplier of critical military communications equipment to the Allied Forces. After the war, Collins established a settlement in Rodgau near Frankfurt (Germany).

In the late 1970s, Klaus-Peter Timmann left Collins to establish his own company: Tele Security Timmann GmbH, or TST for short.

During the first years, the company was based in or near Rodgau, where he had been working for Collins. Here Timmann developed his first successful cipher machine, the PPC-19. It was a small pocket cipher machine that was based on the HP-19C; one of the earliest printing pocket calculators that had just appeared on the market in 1975. It allowed numerical messages to be encrypted with a 108 key and could still be used as a scientific calculator. This was quite an impressive achievement in the late 1970s.
Klaus-Peter Timmann as he appeared in the company brochure in 1985 [5].

In Rodgau, Timmann also developed some of his other cipher machines, such as the DT-300, the TST-1221, TST-2305 and even the portable TST-3550 terminal. Despite the fact that Timmann had started his own company, he stayed loyal to the Collins brand. He was an experienced and dedicated Radio Amateur (HAM) and used a Collins HF-380 and a military Sunair GSB-900 himself [2]. His call-sign was DJ9ZR and he even used the Collins equipment for testing some of his later cipher machines. It was shown on the website [1] and even in the company brochure of 1985 [5].

Pöcking and Tutzing
Once his company had successfully introduced several encryption products, and Timmann had made his first small forture, he moved to a nice villa at Heinrich-Knote Straße in Pöcking, a small town south of Starnberg, near Munich (Germany), north west of a the beautiful Lake Starnberg. The villa housed the development of cipher machines and Timmann's private crypto museum, whilst the production plant was located at Münchenerstrße 33 in Starnberg (north of Pöcking).

In the mid-1980s, at the hight of the company's success, the locations in Pöcking and Starnberg were no longer considered adequate and the company was moved to Tutzing, some 5 km south of Pöcking, where Timmann had found a nice pink-coloured villa right at lake Starnberg.

The image on the right shows the beautiful villa as it appeared on the TST website several years later [1]. It was also prominently displayed in the company brochure of 1985 [5]. A shield with the TST company logo, mounted to the fence, is just visible at the left. Click for a larger view.
The TST headquarters in Tutzing, as it appeared in the company brochure in 1985 [5]. Click for a larger view.

The large fence at the front protected the villa against unwanted intruders. At the back there was even a barb-wired fence to protect the premises against entry from the lake-side road at the rear of the building [2]. The villa also housed Timmann's well-equipped personal crypto museum. In May 2017 the objects of this collection were donated to the Deutsches Museum in München [6].

NSC 800
Klaus-Peter Timmann was an experienced software programmer who had specialized in assembly code for the Z-80 series of microprocessors. As a result, most (if not all) of his products had a Z-80 processor at their heart. Some of his portable text-based cipher machines were based on early home computers, such as the Texas Instruments Silent 743 and the Tandy TRS-80/100.

All of these computers were built around the Zilog Z-80 microprocessor and in some cases Timmann even rewrote the operating system or replaced the built-in software by his own.

The same processor was used at the heart of Timmanns own security products, such as the TST-9669, an OEM crypto board that was not only used as the basis for all TST crypto products, but was also available to third party developers. In products that were built for the Army, the National Semiconductor NSC 800 processor was used; a military Z-80 variant .
MSC 800 processor on the crypo board of the TST 4043

The image above shows the crypto board of the TST-4043, a high-end military-grade data encryptor for use on HF radio channels, that was used for many years by a number of governments and armies around the world, e.g. for communication with embassies.

Torsten Hartmann
In the mid 1970s, TST started experimenting with voice cipher systems, such as secure telephone sets. As usual, KP Timmann handled the encryption algorithms, whilst Electronics Engineer Torsten Hartmann was hired to take care of the vocoders. Vocoders were complex digital devices that were used to digitize the human voice and compress the data so that it could be transmitted over standard narrow-band communication channels, such as analogue telephone sets and radio channels. An example of such a vocoder is the well-known Linear Progressive Coding LPC-10 [3].

In the late 1970s, Torsten Hartmann came in contact with cypto company Mils Elektronik in Austria, a competitor of Tele Security Timmann, who was also interested in developing voice cipher systems. The director of Mils, Willi Reichert, was coming of age and was looking for a successor. After Eberhard Scholz, head of development at Mils, declined the offer, Reichert moved his attention to Hartmann. At the time, Hartmann was working part-time for Mils and had to travel frequently between Munich (Germany) and Mils (Austria). Eventually Reichert was able to persuade Hartmann to move over to Mils permanently and follow in his footsteps.

Hartmann had good contactual skills, something that pleased both Reichert and Scholz, and was soon accepted as the future managing director of Mils. After one year however, a huge conflict between Hartmann and Reichert caused permenent damage in the relationship between the two. In the end, Reichert sold his shares to his fellow shareholders and left the company. In the years following the departure of Reichert, Mils Elektronik was jointly led by Scholz and Hartmann.

Death and demise
After Klaus-Peter Timmann's untimely death on 10 January 2002, the company seemed to have lost its 'heart'. No new products had been developed for some time and the company was seriously 'lacking behind'. Torsten Hartmann came back to TST and became managing director and co-owner. Although several attempts were made to inject new capital into the company and develop new products, it appeared to be too little too late.

In April 2001, TST Timmann lauched a website with a short description of each of their products that were available the at time [1]. Unfortunately, the website was never updated with additional information, before it became defunct in 2005. This was probably caused by Timmann's unexpected death in 2002, followed by the company's struggle to stay in business.

In 2006, Hartmann sold his shares in the company to Michael Bursy, the owner of Bursy Management Consulting Agency GmbH (BMCA) in Schwabmunchen. Bursy tried to turn the tide but eventually had to order liquidation of the company in January 2009. In October 2012 the company was deleted from the registers of the German Chamber of Commerce. Although TST Timmann no longer exists, it is possible that BMCA has taken over some of its assets.

Under control of the BND and CIA
For many years, TST was controlled by the German intelligence service Bundes­nach­richten­dienst (BND). In the early days of the company, Timmann had been visited by BND officers who wanted his cryptographic appliences to be made readable. 1 In return, the BND would help him with export licences, and with the development of cryptographic algorithms [7]. Timmann offered his full cooperation, and BND officers still have fond memories of meetings with him (translated) [8]:

Timmann was a flamboyant person, who tried to provide himself an 'image' by wearing a Rolex watch and heavy golden rings and chains, although he actually didn't need that at all.

He lived in a large villa, close to the lake, and took no money for the work he did for us. Nevertheless, he always managed to cause us embarrassement when it came to declarations after a meeting with him.

This is because his hobby were expensive dinners in expensive restaurants in München. It is generally known that a business dinner is not complete without starter, main dish, dessert, drinks and subsequent cigars. Timmann was an expert at this, and a dinner for two with him, would easily cost well over DM 800.
Despite the fact that Timmann offered his full cooperation, the BND felt that he was unpredictable and might decide to sell unreadable equipment to some of this customers. For that reason, the BND decided to plant a mole in Timmann's company as well. A BND engineer was recruited and was placed in TST as cryptographer [8]. For several years, this person was responsible for the development of TST's cryptographic algorithms. For BND and ZfCh, Timmann was no problem.

In the early 1990s, following an incident in which a sales representative of another crypto firm — Crypto AG — was arrested in Iran, the BND decided to end the relationship with TST. From 1970 onwards, Crypto AG had been jointly owned by the BND and CIA, and with the arrest of the sales representative – Hans Bühler – the BND feared exposure and public embarrassment. After their exit, they left control over TST and Timmann to the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

  1. In this context, readable means that the cryptographic algorithms could be broken by the ZfCh. Also known as friendly. In contrast: algorithms that are not breakable by ZfCh, are called unfriendly or unreadable.

A trip down memory lane
Jim Meyer recalls...

During his life as a high-level communications security expert, Jim Meyer spent several months at TST in 1984, whilst being trained on their wide range of encryption products. There he also met Klaus-Peter Timmann in person. The story below is Jim's account of his time with TST Timmann.

In 1984, the company headquarters was based in a well-secured villa in the town of Pöcking, just south of Munich, near the beautiful lake Starnberg. In his villa in Pöcking, Timmann had his own private crypto museum, where he held a unique and wide variety of cipher machines. Timmann was only too happy to show his collection to potentially interested visitors like myself.

Development of the PCBs and the software was all done at Pöcking, whilst the mechanical parts and the cases were all made and painted in the mechanics shop in Faistenhaar, east of Munich. Production of the PCBs, the final assembly and testing of the units was done in the workshop in Starnberg, some five km north of Pöcking.

The company was later moved to a beautiful pink-coloured villa in Tutzing. The rear side of the villa was right at lake Starnberg and a barb-wired fence had to ensure that nobody could enter the premises from the lake side.
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The choice for Tutzing as the home for TST was not entirely random, as it lies in what was then a 'Bermuda Triangle' of Secret Communications. Close to Tutzing is Feldafing, at that time the School of Communications and Electronics of the German Bundeswehr (Army), where I had served myself more than 20 years earlier, working on the HELL H-54 cipher machine.

A lot of testing of the TST equipment was done in the school at Feldafing. North of Pöcking is the town of Söcking which at the time housed a 'civilian' site with many secret antennas... And north of Starnberg, in the Direction of Munich, is Gauting-Stockdorf, another well-known 'civilian' site with more secret communications stuff. In 1984, I was stationed at Tele Security Timmann for several months, in order to study the manuals and get myself acquinted with the equipment.

During my stay there, I volunteered to work on the production line for some days, in order to get more familiar with the interior of the units. As a large order for the TST-3010 bi-lingual hand-held crypto terminal had just come in, all help was welcome. I did some solder jobs and the wiring of the switches and the various sockets, as well as assembling the TST-3030 printer and the TST-3040 AC power supply unit.

The image on the right shows me in later years, reliving fond memories of the TST-3010 military hand-held terminal and its thermal printer.
Helmuth 'Jim' Meyer operating a military TST-3010 unit

The TST 3000 series consisted of the TST 3010 hand-held military terminal, the TST 3030 half-page thermal printer from Hitachi, the TST 3040 power supply and TST 3070 acoustic coupler. Whilst working on these devices, I came up with the idea for a mounting base with cover for vehicular installations. When I presented it to Timmann, it was met with great enthusiasm. He immediately set out to work and a prototype was created and presented to me in just two days!

I very much liked the TST 9669, a universal OEM crypto board, that could be fitted inside an existing Siemens T-1000 teleprinter and convert it instantly into a fully featured crypto terminal.

This board was a huge success because it could easily be built into any type of terminal and convert it into an offline/online cipher machine.

The Texas Instruments (TI) Silent 745 terminal, with built-in printer and acoustic coupler, was modified with this universal crypto board, and became the TST-3550 message encryptor.
The TST-9669 board as used inside the TST-3550 message encryptor

The Tandy TST-80 Model 100, and later the Model 102, were relatively cheap home computers of the 1970s and 1980s. They too were modified with a small internal PCB to become the TST 1530, the cheapest version of the hand-held crypto line. The TRS-80 Model 102 was later also used to replace the Silent 745 after Texas Instruments had unexpectedly stopped its production.

My favorite piece of equipment however, was the TST-4043 HF-FEC Modem with built-in crypto. It consisted of the TST-9669 crypto board and the TST 82, a 300 baud modem with powerful TST-developed Forward Error Correction (FEC). It was equipped with the so-called 'electronic fly-wheel' that allowed it to stay synchronized even when the HF-signal was lost for a full minute.

For my job, I was sent to several countries to carry out long-distance tests with these units, and each time they passed with flying colours. They were subsequently taken into service.
Jim Meyer reunited with 'his' TST-4043 at the Crypto Museum stand at HAM Radio in Friedrichshafen (Germany) in 2013.

The TST-4043 became the workhorse of many foreign governments and was in production for many years. I personally tested them on several occasions. Afer my retirement, now several years ago, I never thought I would ever see one of these units again, so I was pleasanty surprised when Crypto Museum reunited me with one during the HAM Radio 2013 in Friedrichshafen (Germany).

At TST Timmann, all crypto was built around the Zilog Z-80 and the National Semiconductor NSC 800 military grade processors. For analogue voice scrambling, the TST-7595 was the perfect unit for HF and VHF radio communication.

In 1984, we also carried out the first tests with LPC-10, a vocoder that used Linear Predictive Coding for carrying voice data over narrow-band channels. LPC-10 – also used by other crypto phones 1 – produced a rather synthetic sound, making it difficult to recognize the party at the other end, but the crypto security was excellent.
TST 7595 voice scrambler. Click for more information.

I remember that Mr. Timmann worked for Collins Radio in Rodgau near Frankfurt am Main in the late 1970s, before he founded his own company TST. Some of his first products were the TST 1221 and TST 2305 of which I have one sample that I managed to save from the scrap heap when the shop was being cleared of old and surplus equipment. Unfortunately, it came without the EPROM with its 'secret' software, but it is nevertheless a great piece of memorablia of a great era.

In retrospect, I can say that I very much enjoyed the few months I spent with TST in Starnberg in 1984, and that I was really shocked when I learned about Mr. Timmann's unexpected death in 2002, nearly 20 years after we first met. I have fond memories of Mr. Timmann and his company.

  1. The LPC-10 vocoder was initially developed by the US Department of Defense and probably the American National Security Agency (NSA). It was used for the first generations American Government crypto phones, the STE-I, STU-II and STU-III, and also for use by NATO, e.g. the Philips Spendex 40.

Known products
Help required
Although TST played a significant role in the international world of cryptography during the 1980s and 1990s, the company is relatively unknown. As a result, TST cipher machines are rare and documentation is even rarer. Mid-2013, Crypto Museum managed to secure some historical TST devices, but most of them came without any documentation whatsoever. If you have any information, such as brochures, user manuals and circuit diagrams, please contact us.

Known addresses
  • Tele Security Timmann
    Heinrich-Knote Straße
    D-8134 Pöcking, Germany

  • Timmann GmbH & Co. Tele Security
    Hauptstraße 82
    82327 Tutzing, Germany
    T: 08158-25950

  • Timmann GmbH & Co. Tele Security Vertriebs KG
    MunchenerStraße 33
    82319 Starnberg, Germany
    T: 08151-368980
  1. Initial TST website,
    8 April 2001. Retreived July 2013. 1

  2. Helmut 'Jim' Meyer, HS0ZHK, My way to Ham - Radio and beyond
    Website QRZ.COM. Personal correspondence. Retrieved July 2013.

  3. Wikipedia, LPC-10 Vocoder
    FS-1015 standard. Retrieved July 2011.

  4. Louis Kruh, Cipher Equipment TST 1221
    Cryptologia, Volume 4, Issue 4, October 1980. p. 225.

  5. Tele Security Timmann (TST), Company Brochure
    Full-colour, 20 pages. March 1985.

  6. Deutsches Museum, Geheime Schätze
    9 May 2017. Pressemitteilung (press release).

  7. Paul Reuvers & Marc Simons, Operation RUBICON
    Crypto Museum, 19 March 2020.

  8. KULAS, Gedächtnisprotokoll 1
    BND, 11 December 2009.
  1. This document contains (real) names of people, and will therefore not be released publicly. It was written by a former BND officer, of which we have chosen not to reveal the identy. Instead, we have identified the person by his/her BND/CIA cryptonym.

  1. Retrieved via WayBack Machine.

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