July 12 (UPI) — An Enigma machine, used by Germany in World War II to encode secret messages, sold at auction for $51,500, a Bucharest auction house said.
The still-functioning German-made machine, resembling a typewriter in a wooden box, was sold Tuesday to an unidentified online bidder.
It was put up for auction by a cryptography expert who found it in a flea market and recognized it. He paid $114 for it, to a person unaware of the machine’s historical value, said Vlad Georgescu of Bucharest’s Artmark auction house.
Enigma machines were used by the German military to encrypt messages with what they believed were unbreakable codes. The code was cracked by British researchers, many of whom were women, led by noted mathematician Alan Turing. The story of the work of the code-breaking team at Bletchley Park, a mansion near London, is among the iconic stories of World War II. It has been presented often in novels, television and films.
“These machines are very rare, especially entirely functional ones,” Georgescu said of the code-breaking machine auctioned on Tuesday.