Quotulatiousness

May 16, 2017

The Virtual Lorenz machine

Filed under: Germany, History, Military, Technology — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 03:00

At The Register, Gareth Corfield discusses the new virtual coding device simulating the WW2 German Lorenz cipher machine:

The National Museum of Computing has put an emulation of an “unbreakable” Second World War German cipher machine online for world+dog to admire.

The Virtual Lorenz machine has been launched in honour of WW2 codebreaker Bill Tutte, the man who broke the crypto used in the twelve-rotor cipher machine.

As The National Museum of Computing (TNMOC) puts it, Tutte’s work “shortened the conflict” – even though he had never even seen the cipher machine or its crypto scheme, the breaking of which the museum added was “the greatest intellectual feat of the war”.

TNMOC unveiled the Virtual Lorenz today to celebrate Tutte’s 100th birthday. Built by computing chap Martin Gillow, the simulation accurately reproduces the whirring of the cipher wheels (you might want to turn it down as the “background whirr” is a little too realistic).

The BBC profiled the “gifted mathematician” a few years ago, highlighting how the Lorenz machine whose secrets Tutte cracked was “several degrees more advanced than Enigma”, the cipher famously cracked by Tutte’s colleague Alan Turing. Tutte cracked the Lorenz in about six months, reverse-engineering its workings by reading intercepted Lorenz messages. When the Allies wanted to fool Hitler into believing the D-Day landings would take place in a false location, our ability to read Lorenz was critical for confirming that the ruse had worked – saving thousands of soldiers, sailors and airmen’s lives.

[…]

The Virtual Lorenz can be found here. Word to the wise – it’s not on an HTTPS site, so if you’re hoping to use it to thwart GCHQ, you might want to think again.

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