For those of you who are unaware: Enigma Machine
Originally Posted by The wikipedias
An Enigma machine is any of a family of related electro-mechanical rotor cipher machines used for the encryption and decryption of secret messages. Enigma was invented by German engineer Arthur Scherbius at the end of World War I. The early models were used commercially from the early 1920s, and adopted by military and government services of several countries — most notably by **** Germany before and during World War II. Several different Enigma models were produced, but the German military models are the ones most commonly discussed.
Or for you visual learners...
The one I was able to finger is one of the 3 rotor Wehrmacht variants that is currently owned by the National Cryptologic Museum
<COUGH*NSA*COUGH!> and was on display this weekend at DefCon20 in Las Vegas, NV. I took a couple of really shitty cell phone pictures...
This one is not mine, but he had a better shitty cell phone than I did.
This thing is awesome! I'm a serious hardware geek and history buff, so getting to see and actually TOUCH something like this gave me a semi and some serious goosebumps. The thing that struck me was how SMOOTH the machine is. The keystrokes do take a bit of effort as there is A LOT of machinery at work in the device, but there is no dragging sensation or significant resistance in its operation. It's certainly not a touch-typing device by any stretch of the imagination. Its also heavy, like most things manufactured in the 40's out of old growth steel. The plugs are made of brass with Bakalite insulators and the wires all use fabric insulation. The switch that controls the power for the lights is completely mechanical and exposed. Its a very vintage and industrial device. No style here, all function.
Like most people who seek out this type of thing, I've seen them in museums, but they are always behind glass as part of some sort of display. I'm sure the NSA dosen't mind us touching them, they probably have a whole warehouse full of them someplace. My only regret is that I didn't have a better camera. Truely an unexpected and welcome experience! If you ever get a chance to touch one, DO IT, if just to say that you did it!
I also found it entertaining that the NSA booth was right next to the EFF booth.
...also General Keith Alexander, Director of the National Security Agency & Commander, United States Cyber Command was there...
but his "talk" was FAR less impressive than the hardware his boys brought with him.
There may have also been Donkey ****...
I wasn't brave enough to actually plug into that, so I took their word for it.