IN THIS DAY and age, when we live in constant fear of encryption being cracked, it's worth remembering the most famous encryption method of them all.
The Enigma machine was the Nazi's ace-in-the-hole, a supposedly unbreakable coding machine that was the first to use a primitive algorithm as a cypher, rather than a straightforward like-for-like code.
This meant that, in theory, unless you had another Enigma machine, the message was unreadable. That is, until Alan Turing and the heroes of Bletchley Park. But that's another story.
Today, we report on your chance to own one of the few remaining Enigma machines. All were meant to have been destroyed to hide evidence, but a few slipped through the net, like this one - which is still in working order.
Even the manuals are included, (though sadly facsimilies) as the legendary device goes under the hammer at Sotheby's later today (Friday).
Just as when that other hen's tooth, the Apple I, comes up for auction, the price is not for the faint-hearted, with a guide price of $180k-$200k - but of course a working model like this could fetch even more for the right buyer.
The catalogue describes the device as having three aluminum rotors, a control panel with "standard raised "QWERTZ" keyboard, in an oak case with leather handle. The only thing that has been replaced is the green contrast filter.
What makes this one particularly exciting is that this is an Enigma Mk I made in 1934, meaning it pre-dates World War II. It's a little-recognised fact that versions of the Enigma were also in use in Japan and Italy, but this is a proper Nazi artefact.
For those not up on their history, eventually, an Enigma machine was captured by the Allies, where it was taken to Benedict Cumberbatch, who managed to crack the code, thanks to his computer Bombe, played by Keira Knightley, before eventually being jailed for not fancying her.
Sorry, we may have zoned out during the film.
After the war, Turing made several other breakthroughs before being arrested for gross indecency for his failure to fancy Kiera Knightly, before being posthumously pardoned, making him an icon of national heroism, LGBT rights, and a pioneer of computing. Not a bad CV by any standards.
Meanwhile, the Nazis were defeated and Hitler died in an underground ditch.
If you've got the cash - the auction is here. μ
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