Douglas Ramsey was a friend of Kitty Pryde, the X-Man Shadowcat. Both shared an interest in computers and video games which brought them closer together.
When both Professor Charles Xavier and Emma Frost discovered Doug was a mutant, they both attempted to recruit him for their respective schools. Frost offered him a scholarship to the Massachusetts Academy in hope of inducting him into her adolescent Hellions to serve the Hellfire Club's sinister needs. Pryde accompanied Ramsey on a trip to the Academy for his final interview. Kitty didn't trust Frost at all due to past experiences, and this time was no different. The White Queen captured Kitty, and was later saved by the New Mutants. Ramsey ended up not attenting the school.
While Douglas became a friend to the New Mutants children, they kept their mutant powers and costumed personas from him. However, one night when the New Mutants were alone in the mansion, the techno-organic alien Warlock arrived and battled the New Mutants in the confusion that errupted. The mutants asked Ramsey for help in communicating with the alien, and revealed their secrets to him. Douglas succeeded in talking with Warlock, and both the alien and Ramsey soon joined the team. Ramsey chose the codename Cypher, as his mutant ability allowed him to decypher codes and languages. Warlock and Cypher shared a close bond, often sticking close together in battle.
During a mission to return their teammate Bird Brain to his home island, Cypher was killed. The villanous Ani-mator shot at Rahne Sinclair but Douglas dove and took the bullet.