Building a Home-Made Enigma Machine

A talk from EMF 2022 by Reuben Binns

On Sunday June 5, 2022 at in Stage A

"The Enigma Machine was an electro-mechanical device used in the mid-20th century to encrypt communications. An ingeniously simple and elegant combination of cogs, wires and lamps, all fitting into a portable case, it provided some of the strongest encryption possible at the time. During various Covid-19 lockdowns, I decided to re-enact this important development in the history of computing, through a project to build an Enigma machine at home, using modern components and digital design techniques. The completed project is made out of cheap hobby electronics parts and laser-cut wood, and can be assembled entirely by hand, with no gluing, screwing or soldering. I will reflect on what this process taught me about the challenges of electromechanical computing, security and usability, the changes in modern manufacturing and supply chains, and their impact on computing. This will be followed by a Q&A and a demonstration where you can see the home-made Enigma machine in action and have a go at encrypting and decrypting a message."