On the 15th of May in 1973, the US government put out a request for proposals for a new standard... a Data Encryption Standard (DES). Even before England's disclosure of cracking Enigma, the US Government realized that a strong encryption system was in the best interest of US businesses and possibly citizens and the government itself. Having it public allowed for the standard to be scrutinized for security and led to commoditized hardware implementations. IBM proposed a scheme known as Lucifer that was accepted after modification by the government. Lucifer gained a new name: DES[4, DES].
Because the government, particularly the NSA, was involved in improving IBM's proposed scheme, some people theorized that DES had been weakened [4, DES]. It is still up for debate; however we do know that the changes hardened DES against differential cryptanalysis, a publicly unknown attack that the NSA convinced IBM to keep secret. On the flip side, in 1998 the Electronic Freedom Foundation demonstrated a $250,000 machine named Deep Crack that is able to crack DES in about a day. Earlier efforts had been successful in cracking DES with networks of computers working together, however Deep Crack demonstrates that deciphering DES is easily within the power of any small country, and the government may already have such machines.