During WWII the Germans, who belong to the Axis powers, developed an encryption machine to transmit coded messages. This famous machine was called Enigma which allowed billions of ways to encode a message, making it incredibly difficult for rival nations to crack codes during the war. One of those extremely rare machines was sold to an internet buyer in an auction for over $106,000 on Saturday, December 14.
The rare Enigma machine
The 28.5-pound cipher machine comes with operating instructions and rich lore including how British scientist Alan Turing helped crack the code. According to Heritage Auctions, one of the machine's 26 light bulbs are broken.
It should be noted that earlier in May, an Irish private collector bought a similar enigma machine, known as "Hitler mill," for 98,000 euros ($109,000) from a Munich auctioneer.
The Enigma history
The history related to this machine starts around 1915 with the invention of the rotor-based cipher machine. But officially, enigma machine was invented by Arthur Scherbius in 1918 at the end of WWI. Around 1930, the Polish Cipher Bureau, Biuro Szyfrów, first attempted to break the Enigma.
During the WWII this machine code was thought to be unbreakable. British mathematician Alan Turing and other researchers found a few weaknesses in the implementation of the enigma code and gained access to German codebooks which allowed them to design a machine called a Bombe machine, which helped to crack the most challenging versions of Enigma.
End of Nazi Enigma era
The machine could scramble letters into any one of 17576 combinations, except the use of the original letter. As per the example if the sentence is "Math is fun" then the enigma code will be "rfym nx kzs". It should be noted that Nazi Germany demolished the vast majority of machines just to make sure that the Allies won't get a hold of them. But at the end of the war, then UK Prime Minister Winston Churchill ordered to destroy all captured Enigma machines.