February 5, 2005 One the most significant machines in the history of computing, not to mention the world of espionage and counter-intelligence, the German Armed Forces during World War 2 relied on the Enigma machine to encrypt the most important and sensitive communications before transmitting the messages by radio. The code was cracked by the allied forces in what has become one of the most celebrated espionage stories ever documented , enabling access to much critical information and shortening the war by several years. Now there's a rare Enigma machine for sale.
A military adaptation of a commercial encryption macine, around 40,000 of the military enigma machines were made during WW2 but were ordered to be destroyed by the Allies and most were, though an indeterminate number disappeared and were traded on the black market, surfacing many years later. Examples of the machine are among the most prized possessions of the Spy Museum, the NSA's Cryptologic Museum, the Deutsches Museum and at the famous Bletchly Park Museum.
There has been much written about the Enigma machine - it has a fascinating history that has been researched and recorded in granular details. As always, Wikipedia has a great synopsis.
There's a great technical overview of the principals behind the landmark machine in the web site "The history, science and engineering of cryptanalysis in World War II" and a lovely overview of mathematician Alan Turing's work on the project by the author of "Alan Turing: The Enigma."
There's even a complete site dedicated to the history of the machine at EnigmaHistory.org
The machine in question is being sold by one of the world authorities on the subject, Professor Thomas Perera of Montclair State University and his work is available on CD-ROM entitled "The Story of the ENIGMA: History, Technology, and Deciphering."
Professor Perrera told Gizmag, "Enigma machines are EXCEPTIONALLY hard to find and I go to Europe every year to follow up on leads provided by friends and paid researchers."
Perrera recently retrieved the first RUSSIAN Enigma machine to be found. "It was a very carefully guarded secret for many years and is codenamed FIALKA... you can see the pics in item 170 in my on-line museum.
Tom's site also includes a telegraph museum
The machine for sale is an exceptionally rare German Army Enigma Cipher Machine with a low serial number (2142) and is in very good working and physical condition considering its age and the fact that is has remained hidden for the past 60 years.
The machine escaped destruction by the Allied forces because it was hidden in an attic where it was discovered recently. It has been carefully cleaned and rebuilt and the three rotors and reflector were completely restored using original parts.
This is a chance to own a very fine example of a machine that changed the history of the world. The machine was originally designed to operate with an external voltage or a 4-volt battery which is not available. However, the machine can be operated with two 1.5- volt flashlight batteries which help prolong the life of the extremely rare 4- volt light bulbs. It comes with a set of spare light bulbs and a reproduction of the original instruction manual.
The price is US$22,950 and quite frankly, we can hardly believe such an important piece of mathematical, military and encryption history can be sold for such a sum.
Note - Gizmag is always interested in hearing from people who have genuinely significant technological memorabilia for sale. If it's important in the history of technology, we're sure our readers would love to read about it.