Prototype Hebern Cipher Machine

Prototype Hebern Cipher Machine

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This is a prototype rotary cipher machine made by the American inventor Edward Hebern. The black, white and silver-colored machine has a keyboard with letters arranged like those of a QUERTY keyboard, but no numbers or symbols. In the bottom row of the keyboard on the right are keys that read "Shift [/] Key" and "Space Code". The machine has no outer frame. In the back of the keyboard is an array of wires leading from a flat circuit board to a holder for a rotor. A second circuit board has wires that attach to prongs of a plug on the left side of the machine. This almost connects to 1991.0190.04. The single rotor has black bakelite rings on two sides with a cogged metal disc in between. It has the letters from A to Y around the rim, as well as a blank spot.
Currently not on view
Object Name
cipher machine
Hebern, Edward
Edward Hebern
Physical Description
metal (overall material)
plastic (overall material)
overall: 19 cm x 29 cm x 31.5 cm; 7 15/32 in x 11 13/32 in x 12 13/32 in
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Gift of T. Scripps Downing
Codes and Ciphers
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Medicine and Science: Mathematics
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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