June 01, 2016

German WWII Coding Machine Found On eBay For $20


This is not the machine Alan Turing was working on.


The Enigma machine is pictured below:


Part of a rare German coding machine used by Hitler and his generals to send secret messages during the Second World War has been found after it was advertised on eBay for (£9.50) $20.
A volunteer at the National Museum of Computing, at Bletchley Park, southern England, saw the Lorenz teleprinter, which was in its original case, online.

It was only after buying and refurbishing the teleprinter that it was found to be a military model, which had been used to enter orders or information to be turned into coded messages generated by a cipher machine, the Lorenz SZ42, which the Nazis used for communications between command posts.

The Lorenz cipher was larger and far more complex than the better known Enigma machine, which was portable and used by the Germans for battlefield and diplomatic communications.

A volunteer at the museum in Buckinghamshire, which is separate from the former code-breaking headquarters where the Enigma code was cracked, was looking on eBay when he saw a photograph of what looked like a teleprinter. He and a colleague contacted the owner and visited her in Southend, Essex, where the teleprinter was in its case on the floor of a shed, John Wetter, from the museum, told BBC Radio 4’s Broadcasting House. It was not clear how it came to be in the woman’s shed.

“We said, ‘Thank you very much, how much was it again?’ She said £9.50, so we said, ‘Here’s a £10 note. Keep the change.’”

Its acquisition, and the loan of a Lorenz cipher machine from a Norwegian collection, will allow the museum to display original hardware to show how the Germans encrypted commands. The borrowed cipher machine was used by the German command in Lillehammer, near Oslo.

About 200 Lorenz machines were to have been used during the Second World War but only four survived. The loaned cipher is missing its motor, which the museum is trying to trace.

The Lorenz code had been broken by Bill Tutte, a British mathematician, who deciphered it without ever having seen the machine, which had 12 wheels each with many settings. 

This allowed the allies to read secret messages circulated by the German high command. 

By 1944 a computer called Colossus was able to decipher its messages within hours, rather than weeks.


Picture credit and more at: Colossus: The Secrets Of Bletchley Park.

With many thanks to The Australian 

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