Wikipedia:Today's featured article/October 13, 2004

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An Enigma machine

In the history of cryptography, the Enigma machine was a portable cipher machine used to encrypt and decrypt secret messages. More precisely, Enigma was a family of related electro-mechanical rotor machines — there are a variety of different models.The Enigma was used commercially from the early 1920s on, and was also adopted by military and governmental services of a number of nations — most famously, by Nazi Germany before and during World War II. The German military model, the Wehrmacht Enigma, is the version most commonly discussed. Allied codebreakers were, in many cases, able to decrypt messages protected by the machine (see cryptanalysis of the Enigma). The intelligence gained through this source — codenamed ULTRA — was a significant aid to the Allied war effort. Some historians have suggested that the end of the European war was hastened by up to a year or more because of the decryption of German ciphers. (more...)

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