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Whitfield Diffie and Martin Hellman published the first public-key algorithm in 1976. However, Diffie and Hellman did not put their system to actual use. Ron Rivest, Adi Shamir, and Len Adleman developed the first practical system based on Diffie and Hellman's concepts in 1978. Their system became known as RSA (Rivest, Shamir, Adleman). Refer to "Public-Key Cryptography" for more information.
The Diffie-Hellman key exchange algorithm enables two parties to agree on a key that can be used to encrypt subsequent messages that are exchanged between the parties. Refer to "Key Distribution and Management". Also see RFC 2631 (Diffie-Hellman Key Agreement Method, June 1999) and RFC 2875 (Diffie-Hellman Proof-of-Possession Algorithm, July 2000).
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