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Original WWII Enigma machine for sale on eBay

Evan Blass

In the same way that serial killer memorabilia has found a macabre secondary market online, artifacts from World World II era Nazi Germany also hold great value to certain collectors. One of the most famous elements of the Nazi war effort was the Enigma electrical cryptography machine, which was adopted by the Germans in 1925 after they discovered how easily the British cracked their codes in World War I, and a rare example of which is now for sale on eBay for almost $16,000 as of this writing. The Enigma improved on older monoalphabetic ciphers (where letters are exchanged in a one-to-one fashion throughout a piece of text) by altering the cipher each time a new letter was encoded, giving the machine over 10,000,000,000,000,000 possible keys. Recently two out of three Enigma-encrypted Nazi communications that surfaced in 1995 were cracked within weeks of each other using Folding@Home-style volunteer distributed computing to examine the billions of possible iterations.

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