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Rare Enigma machine fetches 149,000 pounds at auction

London:  An Enigma machine, used by Germany to send encrypted communications during World War II, has fetched a whopping 149,000 pounds — more than twice its presale estimate — at an auction here.The machine, which

PTI [ Updated: July 19, 2015 19:59 IST ]
rare enigma machine fetches 149 000 pounds at auction
rare enigma machine fetches 149 000 pounds at auction

London:  An Enigma machine, used by Germany to send encrypted communications during World War II, has fetched a whopping 149,000 pounds — more than twice its presale estimate — at an auction here.

The machine, which was constructed in 1943, is one of few that survived the conflict intact, as the German military was given orders to destroy them as it retreated.

The machine includes three rotors and was sold complete with an oak hinged-lid carrying case.

It was sold to an anonymous buyer for 149,000 pounds, significantly more than the expected price of 50,000-70,000 pounds at Sotheby's auction house.

To use Enigma, the operator would type in a message, then scramble it using three, four or five notched rotors, each with 26 possible positions, "Gizmag" reported.

Whoever received the message needed to know the exact settings of the rotors, and those of the machine's plugboard, in order to decode the message.

The German military believed that the encryption granted by Enigma could not be broken, but thanks to Polish cryptographers and the work of codebreakers at Bletchley Park — including mathematicians Gordon Welchman and Alan Turing — the cipher was eventually beaten.

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