The Enigma of the Enigma Machine. First off there’s its mysterious name… And though its function remained a constant from the start you’ll be curious to know that those who used it and where it was used didn’t! Read on to clear up some of the grey shrouding this hard-to-understand invention!
A German born, cipher machine or more accurately an “electro-mechanical rotor cipher machine”, the device, as seen in the above photos, was used in and shortly after wartime to send secret messages when suspicions and tensions were high.
Inventor Arthur Scherbius came up with the ‘soon-to-be snatched up by the military’ machine, when the First World War came to an end. The intricacies of the design and complex nature of decryption definitely reflect the mind of its electrical engineer creator, however a military mind he was not.
The contraption to make your motors go into overdrive from using was patented by Scherbius in 1918 with the intent for it to be used in banks and other commercial businesses for the handling of secure information. With the outbreak of the Second World War we wonder if he was surprised to see its quick adoption by several countries and implementation in their military.
A Chronology of Cryptography
Cryptography or secret message writing dates back to ancient times – before most people could even read and write! You can imagine the simple nature of these formats.
With the changing times, growing literacy, and demand for hidden messages among king, queens and sates to protect top-secret endeavors, the ‘classic cypher’ (a cypher that was most likely easy to confine to the mind and thus easy to break by expert decoders) had become very prone to being cracked.
In response to the demand for something more secure, the ‘cipher device’ was invented (the first being a cipher disk) and rose to popularity with fancy models, like the gold ‘cipher machine’ below in use in the 16th Century.