CX-52 Model Swiss Cipher Machine

  • This Swiss cipher machine is a fantastic example of mechanical precision
  • It was considered superior to previous models, its code virtually unbreakable
  • Used during the Cold War era, this machine exudes an air of mystery and intrigue
  • Get complete item description here
Item No. 31-3728

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A triumph of ingenuity and craftsmanship, this Swiss cipher machine is a fabulous example of mechanical precision. Cipher machines are used to encrypt and decode messages and are most often associated with military campaigns. Though cipher decoders have existed since antiquity, mechanized cipher machines first appeared around World War I. The technology continued to improve throughout World War II and was widely adopted by governments and the military during the Cold War era. This cipher machine is a CX-52 model, first developed around 1952 by Boris Hagelin. At the time of its manufacture around 1960, the machines were produced by Crypto AG in Zug, Switzerland. The CX-52 has an irregular movement of the cipher wheels and was considered an improvement over its predecessor, the C-52, as it was more secure. At the time, the CX-52 code was considered virtually unbreakable by the National Security Agency (NSA).

This cipher machine's exact model was utilized as a part of Operation RUBICON, a joint venture between the CIA and Crypto AG's owner, Boris Hagelin. The CIA sought to purchase Crypto AG in order to control the company and consequently, its user base. After the CIA took over 50% of the company's shares in June 1970, their influence within Crypto AG allowed the CIA to distribute compromised encryption devices to non-NATO countries. From June of 1994 on, the company was owned exclusively by the CIA.

This is an all-mechanical pin-and-lug type cipher machine. Both plain and ciphertext are printed on a gummed paper ribbon. The CX-52 has 6 pinwheels with 47 pins each. The Cipher or Decipher mode is selected with a knob on the left side. To encipher, the operator turns the large letter knob on the left side until the desired letter appears on the letter dial and pushes the lever on the right side of the machine. In Cipher mode the letters are printed in groups of five letters, and the letter X is used to replace a space. Designed to be both sturdy and portable, this Swiss cipher machine exudes an air of intrigue, inviting speculation on what it has seen and secrets it has shared.

Marked “Type CX-52 Series D” on right side

Circa 1960

12“ wide x 8” deep x 6.25“ high
CX-52 Model Swiss Cipher Machine
Period: 20th Century
Type: Other
Depth: 8.13 Inches
Width: 12.0 Inches
Height: 6.25 Inches

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