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NEMA Cipher Machine
- This Swiss NEMA cipher machine is an exceptional piece of military and engineering history
- The NEMA or "New Machine" was created by the Swiss to replace the German-engineered Enigma K
- Fewer than 700 of these machines were ever made, with this model being one of the rare war machines
- Though developed too late for WWII, NEMA was used extensively throughout the Cold War era
- Get complete item description here
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Visually similar to the Enigma, the NEMA used a 10-wheel mechanism: five “stepping” or “drive” wheels, four coding wheels (rotors) and one reflector wheel that is movable during encryption. The use of the reflector allowed designers to effectively replace the plug board found on the Enigma. The reflector and coding wheels are the only wheels that are electrically wired, while the stepping wheels feature mechanical cams that control the stepping of the coding and reflector wheels. The addition of the movable reflector and stepping wheels allowed the NEMA codes to be more “irregular” and, therefore, harder to break.
Developed between 1941 and 1943 by a team of Swiss mathematics professors led by Captain Arthur Alder at the University of Bern, the prototype was completed in 1944. After modifications in 1945, the final versions were created by Zellweger AG and released for service in 1947. Though too late to be utilized during World War II, the NEMA became widely used by the Swiss Army and the Diplomatic Service during the Cold War era.
Only 640 of these machines are believed to have been created by Zellweger AG. This particular model was one of the rare war machines that were kept in reserve storage to be used in the event of war, and these models are extraordinarily rare. The case features the following label:Nur bei Kriegsmobilmachung abgeben! Ne délivrer qu'en cas de mobilisation de guerre! Da consegn. solo in caso di mobilitazione di guerra !, meaning “Issue only in case of war mobilization” in three languages, German, French and Italian.
The NEMA machine bears its original plaques and it is marked with its serial number TD-459. It also comes complete with its original operating manual.
12 3/4“ wide x 14 3/8“ deep x 5 3/4” high