The Enigma Machine

1915, two Dutch Naval officers invented a machine to encrypt messages. This became known as the Enigma machine.

1918, Arthur Scherbius, a German businessman, patented the Enigma machine.

Mid 1920s, mass production of Enigma machine with 30,000 machines being sold to the German military over the next 2 decades. The poles set up a world leading crypt analysis bureau hired leading mathematicians such as Marian Rejewski.


In 1931, a German traitor told Rejewski that the Germans routinely changed the daily key indicator setting for the codes.

To find the daily key, Rejewski build 6 replicas of the Enigma machine and connected them.

In 1938 Germans added two new roters into the Enigma machine. This made it harder for the Poles to read the traffic.

The Poles asked their allies, Britian and France to help them with the analysis and codebreaking of the German messages.

The new machine could run through more than 17,000 indicator settings. He called this machine, ‘the bomb’.

The British smuggle out the Enigma replica machines two weeks before Germany invaded Poland

Alan Turing, a British mathematician at Bletchley Park thought of a different way of using the ‘bombs’ for testing the German codes.

Hundreds of code breakers at Blechley Park worked round the clock to decipher the German Enigma communications they intercepted.

In 1943, British engineer, Tommy Flowers, created Colossus

Colossus changed the way code breaking was done from electro-mechanical to electronic – it was the first modern day computer

The Allied work on codebreaking played a key role in victories such as D-Day. It shortened the length of WW2.