Mar 30, 2006

Rare German Enigma Machine on eBay


(Berlin) The bidding at eBay is up to 13,150 euros ($15,819.45 US) for a WWII-era German encoding machine, similar to devices whose messages were cracked by British code breakers at Bletchley Park.

The Enigma 3 Walzen Chiffriermaschine Chiper Weltkrieg (3-Rotors ENIGMA Cipher Machine) is being auctioned by a Munich firm. A spokesman told The Register that the machine had been brought in by a customer who inherited it from his grandfather.

"We've had it inspected by an expert who said that due to its good condition it looks very likely to have been in German state ownership at the time," said Alexander Urff of Sales Service in Munich.

The Enigma machine The first Enigma machines were commercial models that debuted in the early 1920s. Branches of the German military began to use Enigma later in the decade to encrypt sensitive information.

Some historians argue that the breaking of the Enigma code by British operatives was one of the keys to winning World War II, and that the ability to read German transmissions undetected may have hastened the war's end by several years.


LTLOP said...

I remember seeing a documetary a few years ago on the History Channel, and its been repeated as well, that said the American Gov't had a few enigma machines and they they were still considered top secret classification. Maybe because this was due to the addition of more encoding wheels. Could this one be an earlier model?
All I know is that this is one the amazing feats in engineering. Hit a letter and a different one pops up, hit the same letter again and a 2nd completely different letter is typed. Sigh, wish I was better at math.

Name withheld to protect the guilty said...

The story of breaking the Enigma is actually pretty fascinating, including the world's first electronic computer, and inspired part of a great Neal Stephenson novel (Cryptonomicon).

There used to be a website (now defunct) where you could punch in letters, and an electronic Enigma machine would show you what the machine was doing on the inside...pretty cool, if you ask me.

Anonymous said...

They used to have one of these on display at the Smithsonian American History museum in the "Information Age" exhibit.

But they tore that one down about nine months ago. You could go there and see all the computers you learned on in high school (if you're a 30-Something closing in on 40 like me).

Me, Myself, and I