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The Enigma Machine

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The Enigma Machine Essay, Research Paper

Computers Assignment

The Enigma Machine

The Enigma was one of the best of the new electromechanical cipher machines

produced for the commercial market in the 1920s. Hugo Koch, a Dutchman,

conceived of the machine in 1919. Arthur Scherbius first produced it commercially

in 1923. Impressed by its security, which was based on statistical analysis, the

German government acquired all rights to the machine and adapted it to the needs

of its new, modern military forces. It became the standard cipher machine of the

military services, of German agents, and of the secret police. It was also used at all

echelons from high command to front-line tactical units including individual

airplanes, tanks, and ships. An ordinary three-wheel Enigma with reflector and six

plug connections generated the following number of coding positions:




Given this statistical capability, proper communications procedures and practices,

and the fact that solving the Enigma on a timely basis would require rapid analytic

machinery which did not exist, the Germans regarded the Enigma as impenetrable

even if captured. The Germans, however, did not always practice proper

communications security, and, more importantly, the Allies, even in 1938-39, were

on the verge of creating the necessary cryptanalytic machinery which would unlock

the Enigma’s secrets. The evolution of this technology and its application were major

contributing factors to the ultimate Allied victory in World War II.


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