nk497 writes "Clifford Cocks is one of three British men who developed an encryption system while working for the UK government in the early 1970s, but was forced to keep the innovation quiet for national security reasons. Just a few years later, their Public Encryption Key was developed separately by US researchers at Stanford and MIT, and eventually evolved into the RSA encryption algorithm, which now secures billions of transactions on the internet every day. 'The first I knew about [the US discovery] was when I read about it in Scientific American. I opened it one lunchtime and saw a description and thought, "Ah, that's what we did,"' he said. 'You don't go into the business to get external credit and recognition — quite the opposite. Quite honestly, the main reaction was one of complete surprise that this had actually been discovered outside.' The UK trio have now won recognition for their accomplishment in the form of the Milestone Award from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers."