This code breaker hacked the Nazi Germany

Here is how Alan Turing became the real hero for cracking the Nazi code

The Enigma machine was a very confusing contraption, but here is how the unbreakable Nazi code story was formed

If anyone has seen the film Enigma, then they have the complete opposite impression of what actually transpired in real life. We will get to that later, but for now, let us dig into a little more about the Enigma machine. The machine was developed by the Germans, and if you looked at it, you would know that it is not your average typewriter. Its primary function was to translate ordinary messages into code through a very clever method because in the coded message, no such letter is ever repeated twice, making it impossible to decode the message using conventional means.
So how was this any different compared to the contraptions present in banks or financial institutions? This German machine had an additional layer of encoding. At the front of the machine was something called as a plugboard, which looked like a small switchboard. This allowed the coding coming through the rotors to be re-sequenced for to be scrambled once more, making it even more difficult to crack the code. In fact, the total number of possible combinations for message encryptions came to an unbelievable figure of 158,962,555,217,826,360,000, which ends up being in the quadrillion zone, if you did not end up noticing it.

However, the biggest flaw of the Enigma machine was in fact its ability to send messages without repeating a single letter, which was figured out by none Alan Turing, who in the history books, is many things, ranging from was a British pioneering computer scientist, mathematician, logician, cryptanalyst and theoretical biologist. However, most individuals will recognize him as a degenerate, most likely because of his sexual inclinations, since they were against a law in that era. His affair caused him to end up in jail, which ultimately led to the poor chap’s suicide.

However, Turing did more for his country and for that, his account should be told. Turing, along with other cryptanalysts initially discovered that they could decipher ordinary words and phrases in the Enigma messages by matching them up with strings of random letters that never repeated. However, there was a little obstacle standing in the way, because in order to crack the code of the Enigma machine, both the sender and receiver needed to have the exact same settings on their rotors and plugboards. Keep in mind that the messages were transmitted through Morse code.

Another enemy that the Allied forces were facing was lack of time. Even if they did manage to crack the code, the message would have become useless after a couple of weeks because each month saw a new message printed on code sheets in soluble ink that easily dissolved in water. The Germans on the other hand, had another ace up their sleeve; a machine called the Bombe, which could decipher army and air force codes, but not navy.

Now what did Alan Turing do? He, along with Gordon Welchman, developed their own form of the Bombe, allowing both of them to break any version of the Enigma code in under 20 minutes. How was this thing possible? It bypassed the time-consuming ‘guess the number’ game and went straight for the message. Despite his efforts to crack the Enigma machine, Alan Turing is remembered as an enemy. However, we will continue to remember what he really was.


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