Enigma stecker (plugboard cable)
Enigma stecker (plugboard cable)
Production date
c. 1939-1945
Additional Title information
A cable for the plugboard of an Enigma I machine.
Brass, bakelite, fabric.
Cipher machine part
Serial number(s)
Good. Untested, with some fraying to the cover of one end of the cable.
Category / Subcategory (if applicable)
Main collection (Warwickshire, UK).
In storage
Ex: A private German collection.
Acquisition Date
Aug 2019
Associated object(S)
Record Last Updated
Sep 24, 2023
A cable for the plugboard (or steckerbrett) of a German Enigma I machine. This example is in a fine, though untested condition. The cable has certainly seen wartime use, and, given the context in which it was found, possibly post-war use as well. There is some fraying to one end of the cable.
Each Enigma I machine was equipped with 12 of these cables (although the plugboard could hold up to 13). Each cable, 20cm long, had a black bakelite plug at each end with one thick pin on the top (measuring 4mm) and one thin pin below it (measuring 3mm). Connecting the two pins were two wires - one connecting the thick pin on one plug to the thin pin on the other, and vice versa. The plugboard has 26 sockets, one for each of the letters A-Z. Each socket has two contact. The sockets of the plugboard are self-closing, meaning that if no plug is inserted, the two contacts are automatically shorted by an internal spring-loaded shorting bar (attached to the end of the socket, protruding behind the plugboard). The cable is used to swap pairs of letters, making it self-reciprocal. If any number of cables (0≤N≤13) had been used, the number of combinations would have been 532,985,208,200,000. In reality, however, six, and then later 10 cables were used at a time, reducing the number of possibilities. In the latter case, the number of combinations would be 'only' 150,738,274,900,000.
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