An Enigma machine just fetched over $106K at auction


A rare “Enigma” machine, used by Nazi Germany to create military communications code thought to be unbreakable, sold at auction for more than $106,000.

The 28.5-pound cipher machine went to an internet buyer on Saturday, according to Heritage Auctions. It comes with operating instructions, a case with an engraved Third Reich emblem — and a rich lore including how British scientist Alan Turing helped crack the code.

One of the unit’s 26 light bulbs is broken, according to the description.

It’s not the first time a Nazi code creator has traded hands for such a sum. In May, an Irish private collector swiped up a different encryption machine, known as the “Hitler mill” because of its hand crank, for 98,000 euros ($109,000) from a Munich auctioneer, according to the Telegraph.[…]

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Click here to view the auction page.

SWLing Post contributor and friend, Dan Robinson, and I once visited the National Cryptological Museum at Fort Meade and got to try our hand at using an Enigma machine. It’s an absolutely brilliant bit of mechanical engineering, of course. I highly recommend this museum to anyone interested in radio, computers or cryptography.

If you’d like to learn about another fascinating bit of over-the-air WWII technology–the SIGSALY network–I strongly encourage you to check out this post from our archives.

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4 thoughts on “An Enigma machine just fetched over $106K at auction

  1. Guy Atkins

    I too got to see an enigma machine close up, at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA.

    Back in 2014, this machine made a road trip south to Hollywood, to take part in a photo shoot for the movie The Imitation Game. Photos from the trip ( show the valuable relic packed up for the trip in a Toyota Corolla! Wow, at least they could have borrowed a Brinks armored truck for their historic passenger :^)

  2. Mangosman

    “Remember which has the machine used to work out the encryption keys and next door is the National Computer Museum which contains a working valve (tube) computer which was used to workout the keys of newer encryption machines.

    I wonder if the Germans have a museum containing the development of the Enigma machine?

    Don’t forget the movie “The Imitation Game”.”

  3. John AE5X

    Hi Thomas,

    That’s quite a sum of money but these things will fetch more in the future as the living memory of WW2 disappears from society.

    There were several varieties of Enigma machines and each one had many variables that could be set for encryption/de-encryption. Most of those variables are reproducible with a free app that allows one to learn a bit about the machines and have a little fun in the process:

    John AE5X


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