In the event of a government shutdown, American History will remain OPEN through at least Saturday, October 7, by using prior year funds. Visit for updates.

Prototype Hebern Cipher Machine

Prototype Hebern Cipher Machine

<< >>
Usage conditions apply
This is a prototype rotary cipher machine component made by the American inventor Edward Hebern. The badly rusted machine has a steel frame with a keyboard in front, a motor on top, and a cylindrical device on its side on the top. Numerous wires lead into the cylinder, and it is attached by a gear shaft to the motor. There is a capacitor in back. There is a cord on the right and another on the left. Dimensions do not include cords. The keyboard has three rows of keys, arranged like a QWERTY keyboard, with no top row. The second row has a "SHIFT (/) LOCK" key and the bottom row a black "SHIFT (/) KEY". The object resembles the keyboard part of 1991.0190.06, but the keys are white on this machine.
Currently not on view
Object Name
cipher machine
Hebern, Edward
Edward Hebern
Physical Description
metal (overall material)
rubber (overall material)
overall: 14 cm x 31 cm x 42 cm; 5 1/2 in x 12 7/32 in x 16 17/32 in
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Gift of T. Scripps Downing
Codes and Ciphers
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Mathematics
Data Source
National Museum of American History
Nominate this object for photography.   

Our collection database is a work in progress. We may update this record based on further research and review. Learn more about our approach to sharing our collection online.

If you would like to know how you can use content on this page, see the Smithsonian's Terms of Use. If you need to request an image for publication or other use, please visit Rights and Reproductions.

Note: Comment submission is temporarily unavailable while we make improvements to the site. We apologize for the interruption. If you have a question relating to the museum's collections, please first check our Collections FAQ. If you require a personal response, please use our Contact page.