I remember reading about this back in the 1990s; and in the days of BBSs. If memory serves me correctly, there was another encryption scheme, similar to RSA called PGP (Pretty Good Privacy).
There was something that happened back then with the FBI being unable to crack PGP. The inventor was investigated by authorities; I think there was even an international case; Somewhere in Europe, that needed backdoor access. They engaged the FBI and perhaps the NSA also. I think the software developer's name was Philip Zimmerman.
I think PGP was an open-sourced project (One of the first), the NSA and FBI were unable to crack it, even with the sourcecode. Encryption technologies are protected from export, and enforced by the Federal Trade Commission.
So RSA was born as a commercial product, that used some of the PGP technology.
Most of these types of suggestions occur through standards-bodies. Remember, SSL used to have keys for encryption that were only 128-bits. Then, as technology progressed, the standard became 256-bit, and then 512-bit. Some sites on the internet today, use 1024-bit encryption as well as 2048-bits.
If memory serves me correctly, the NSA and/or the FBI also had a say in how fast home computers would be allowed to get. I remember reading an article in Scientific American from the early 1990s, where IBM said they had the technology to develop CPUs that run up to 4GHz using RISC technology (competes with CISC; or what Intel/AMD primarily use.) However, this technology was never brought to market. CPUs today, can accomplish similar speeds with multiple cores. Parallel processing makes it more difficult to brute-force decrypt.
Paired-Key encryption and password technology is one of the most secure. Passwords can be captured using keylogger software, or dictionary attacks.
My guess is that computer speeds plateaued as a result of Government intervention; and fear that home computers would, in time, have the computing power and ability to break encryption. Around this timeframe, Microsoft also introduced "Trusted Computing Platform". My guess, is the ability to use signed code, would be created as a Government project, and allow desktop machines to continue to advance in technology and speed, while also limiting the ability to use encryption tools.
Instead, Apple developed a new formfactor- tablets and smartphones and this stunned the industry, when everyone was seemingly collaborating to develop the next speed chips, on a single-core platform. The new iPhones and tablets solved a problem of selling hardware.