Hebern's Commercial Cipher Machine

Description

This machine uses 5 rotors, each equipped with 26 input contacts connected to 26 output contacts. These five rotors are cascades. The input of the first is connected to a keyboard, the output of the fifth leads into a printing device. Each rotor acts as a simple substitution. Cascading five of them would still yield a simple (monoalphabetic) substitution. For this reason, after processing a letter, one (or more) rotors are stepped (rotated) to form another substitution alphabet . The stepping is controlled by two (left and right) ratchet wheels. As the rotors, these ratchet wheels have have the letters of the alphabet as indicators.

The rotor in position V and the right ratchet wheel step once for each letter processed. The left ratchet wheel and the rotor in position I step once after the right ratchet wheel steps to N. Finally, the left ratchet wheel drives the rotor in position III the same way. The rotors in the positions II and IV remain static.

The rotors ("1" to "5") may be placed in any position ("I" to "V"). A rotor is inverted (which was possible for this machine), CipherClerk's Applet indicates this by a ~ (tilde). CipherClerk's Applet needs a seven letter key word: The first letter denotes the initial position of the left ratchet wheel. The next five denote the initial positions of the rotors in the positions I, II, III, IV, and V. The final letter denotes the initial position of the right ratchet wheel.


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