We know that despite the fact that nothing is safe on the internet, there are still machines that are hard to crack and one of them is the Enigma machine. In fact, this machine is put on record to be the hardest machine to crack and decrypt and that it has just been sold in an auction. According to a new report, the rare 1944 M4 Enigma cipher machine that has four rotors has been sold at an auction at the Christie’s and that it has gone for £347,250 ($437,955). It was expected that the top bid for this machine would be over £300,000 and it did somewhat better than expected.
The history behind this M4 Enigma machine is very interesting. ZDNet reveals that “M4 Enigma has a special place in computing history as the Allied efforts to break its encryption led to the development of the first programmable computer, the one developed at Bletchley Park that was used to secretly break the M4, giving Allied forces visibility into German naval planning during the Battle of the Atlantic until its surrender in mid-1945. ”
One thing that makes Enigma machines rare is the fact that they had four rotors rather than three and three rotors were common while four were not. There was even an order after Germany capitulated to “destroy remaining Enigmas in order to keep them from Allied forces”. This meant that most of these machines were destroyed and some of them that were left were also ordered to be destroyed by Winston Churchill.
The auction house says that “The machine’s use of 4 rotors, instead of 3, and the operator’s ability to select these from a pool of 8 interchangeable rotors, together with stricter operating procedures, gave the M4 Enigma a much higher level of encryption,”. It is worth noting that Sotheby’s sold an Enigma machine last year for $800,000 as well.