A German coding machine from World War II era was sold for £10 on eBay. Authorities found it languishing, unnoticed, among ‘rubbish’ in a shed in Essex, UK, according to a report in the BBC. 

b’The Original Keyboard Used For The Lorenzo Cipher in WW-II | Image Source: AFP’

The machine, identified as a German Lorenz teleprinter from WW-II, was mistaken for a telegram machine and put up for sale on eBay for £9.50, where volunteers from the National Museum of Computing, Bletchley Park, found it.  

It is believed that Hitler himself used the machine to communicate personal messages with his personnel. 

John Wetter, a volunteer with the Museum, recounts the incident to BBC : 

“My colleague was scanning eBay and he saw a photograph of what seemed to be the teleprinter,” 

They went to Southend, from where the ad was posted, to confirm their suspicions, and hit gold upon finding the historic machine, quietly lying inside its original casing on the floor of a shed.

“We said ‘Thank you very much, how much was it again?’ She said ‘£9.50’, so we said ‘Here’s a £10 note – keep the change!'”

It was not until they carried the machine back to Bletchley Park and scrubbed it clean that they realized the true value of the machine, clearly marked with a Nazi Swastika and even a key archaic Warren-SS insignia, according to The Guardian

The machine turned out to be a keyboard for the coding device used to carry out strategic communication during the Second World War. Messages were typed in German, using the teleprinter, and encrypted using a linked cipher. 

According to officials, the Lorenz Cipher is much more complicated than the already famous ‘Enigma‘, and was kept at more secure locations because of its bigger size and use in strategic communications. 

WikiCommons/Alessandro Nassiri
“This gives us the chance to show the breaking of the Lorenz cipher code from start to finish,” said Andy Clark, Chairman of the Museum said. 

The Museum is still hunting for a part of the machine, an electric motor, to complete the Lorenzo Cipher machine. They are relying on the public to find the motor, or for someone to create a new one for them.