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posted: 5/9/2014 1:53 PM

Hear about Col. Fabyan's role in launching the NSA

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  • Col. George Fabyan

    Col. George Fabyan

Submitted by Geneva History Center

The Geneva History Center will present "Geneva Tycoon Who Launched the NSA" with guest author Richard Munson at noon Tuesday, May 13, at the center, 113 S. Third St., Geneva.

Most Kane County residents have visited the windmill and Japanese Gardens at the Riverbank Estate along the Fox River. Few, however, know Fortune Magazine considered its founder to be among history's 10 most interesting millionaires. Gilded Age tycoon George Fabyan launched the National Security Agency and created the modern science research center.

The author of the new biography "George Fabyan: The Tycoon Who Broke Ciphers, Ended Wars, Manipulated Sound, Built a Levitation Machine, and Organized the Modern Research Center," will talk about Geneva's most famous resident.

Richard Munson, a suburban Chicago writer, will explain how Colonel Fabyan changed the way we wage wars and keep secrets, how we transmit sound and design buildings, and how we stimulate scientific advances. Munson will reveal how the cotton tycoon inspired a "community of thinkers" who advanced science in such diverse fields as acoustics, cryptography, genetics, and physiology. Yet the whimsical Fabyan also constructed a levitation machine (now at the Geneva History Center) that tried to defy gravity, and he spent millions "proving" Sir Francis Bacon wrote Shakespeare's plays.

Munson is the author of "From Edison to Enron," a history of the electricity industry; "The Cardinals of Capitol Hill," a behind-the-scenes look at congressional appropriators; and "Cousteau: The Captain and His World," a biography of the undersea explorer.

This program is part of the Museum's Brown Bag Lunch Series held at noon on the second Tuesday of each month from September through May. Bring a lunch. Soup is provided by Inglenook Pantry and the Museum offers cookies, water and coffee. Admission is $5 each or $3 for museum members. To register, visit or call (630) 232-4951.