The cryptographic Enigma machine was a product of the early 1900s. It came out of a necessity that runs through history, that of protecting and securing essential information. The invention of the Enigma by Arthur Scherbius was a modern take on this ancient problem. It was primarily used for military purposes with certain exceptions where civilian use was permitted. The Enigma evolved through the years, providing further technological advancements in every part of its production. During that regarded era, it was considered as an impenetrable defence mechanism. This device proved to be a Trojan horse build by their very hands. In the end, it was used by the allied forces to infiltrate enemy lines and bring a decisive victory that ended one of the greatest wars in history.
This intriguing device known as the Enigma was invented by Arthur Scherbius a German Engineer. On the 23rd of February 1918, his company Scherbius & Ritter filled for a patent on a rotor cipher machine under the name Enigma (DE Patent 416219). Although it was one of the first and most comprehensive designs, it was not the only rotor cipher machine at that time. The rotor machine was initially invented in the Netherlands during the year 1915 by two naval officers, R.P.C. Sprengler and Theo Avon Hendel. However, it was not until a decade later in the year 1928, that the German Army authorised the machine for general use by its divisions. Scherbius never lived to see all this happen as he died shortly after a horse carriage accident in 1927. After this unfortunate incident, his colleague Will Korn took the reins of the Enigma project and developed it even further.
Even though the machine is known as the Enigma, it eventually became nothing more than a brand name which was carried out and used during that historical period. The original manufacturer to produce the Enigma was Chiffriermaschinen AG; based in Berlin. It was also manufactured by five more companies under license. Each company had an official manufacturer’s code. The codes assigned to each licensed company were: aye for Olympia, bac for Ertel-Werk, gvx for Konski & Krüger, jla for Heimsoeth und Rinke and jmz for Atlas-Werke AG. These codes were imprinted on the machines and can give us a clue as to where and when they were manufactured. Many batches of machines where produced by these companies, developing quite a few variants with different rotor wirings. Most of these machines were used by military and diplomatic services in different countries around the world such as Italy and Spain.
The time period that we observe ranges from the very conception of the Enigma in 1918 to right after the ending of the war in 1945. This is the broad area in which the Enigma story resides in. In a more specific manner, the Public Enigma Simulator focuses mainly to the period ranging from 1926 to 1944. This period represents the main development era of the machine, initiating from the commercial Enigma D to the many military variants such as the M3 and M4. Some focus is given to how the machine carried on being used after the war. An example of this was the Norwegian Police Security Service obtaining a few machines and rewiring them for further use.
The evolution of the Enigma was divided into two historical periods of development. This is based on their means of producing output. The first Enigma to be constructed implemented a printing function for presenting output. For this reason this branch is classified as Printing Enigma's. They were heavy, bulky machinery but introduced a very sophisticated for its time mechanism. It included a cog-wheel driven, wheel turnover mechanism with irregular stepping. The other alternative which was developed later on, introduced a panel fitted with special light bulbs that replaced the printing function. These machines are therefore categorised as Lamp Enigma's. These machines dominated the scene as they were light, compact and very efficient. They also were the main focus of development which led to the creation of various models. In this simulator, the printing Enigma's are left out, as focus is given around the other branch of the Enigma tree, the so called Lamp Enigma's.