World War II Enigma cipher machine up for auction


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Sorry, not on my Christmas list.


Who needs an Enigma machine when Nazis just broadcast their messages on Twitter?


Well, not right now.


“Hey Alan! Remember when you saved our country and won World War II by breaking the German code so we could read their message? And then we hounded you to suicide for being gay? Well, good news; we forgive you!”

– Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, Ireland and the British Dominions beyond the Seas Queen, Defender of the Faith


Meh. I’d rather have Richard Feynman’s Nobel Prize. Only way I’m getting one.


He really does deserve this honor:






You win the internets!




Meh. I encrypt everything with double rot13, figuring it’s twice as strong as regular rot13. In fact, this message is encrypted that way right now!


These things come up fairly often. They’re not that rare, apparently.


A rare, fully-operational Enigma cipher machine from World War II

I was surprised to find out that many modern electronics will never last more than about 20 years.
I recently unpacked a prized scanner out of storage and it was completely dead and irreparable: the electrolytic capacitors and the crystals, apparently, have a limited shelf life. When they die, its over.


There are Enigmas and Enigmas. This seems to be a three-rotor Wehrmacht model, which differs from the commercial model because it has a plugboard which makes the code much harder to break.

When I worked in the Science Museum in London, the exhibit on communication technology had a commercial Enigma, with a caption that appeared not to have changed since the museum acquired it on the open market in the mid 1930s.


Failed electrolytic capacitors can frequently be replaced. About nine years ago I was working as IT technician at university. Bloated capacitors were frequent cause of computer motherboard failure, and replacing them typically brought the motherboard back to life. Heating the solder points enough to remove the failed capacitor was problematic though - modern motherboards are really good at dissipating heat :slight_smile:


Don’t you need at least two of these to be useful?


In my case it was after he replaced the capacitors that the repairman discovered the damage to my 1980s-era Sony ICF-PRO80 Scanner/Receiver was more extensive than the failed electrolytic capacitors. The following was his prognosis:

I had a chance to go over your PRO80 and unfortunately I do not have good news. 95% of the failures in the PRO80 is due to T-11 (a coil / transformer in the detector) opening up. This happens when the bypass electrolytic capacitor ages and shorts which puts a DC voltage across the coil burning up the tiny wires inside. There are no replacements or substitutes for this coil. This is what happened to your PRO80. When T-11 fails it prevents reception below 30 MHz. I replaced a few bad capacitors on the FM side hoping the FM portion of the radio would come alive but no success there either. So there are other problems besides T-11. There is nothing I can do to restore your radio.

I don’t know what one could have done. It was stored for 25+ years, with batteries removed, in climate-controlled storage. And I can’t just buy another one. Why should I ever think a previously owned unit wont just fail in the exact same way? It was a gorgeous machine:


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