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United States Army M-209-B

This is a US Army M-209-B cipher machine in complete and working condition. Included is the original canvas case, all accessories, and a copy of the original operator’s manual.

This is a very good example of a WWII-era M-209-B that shows evidence of being used in the field. Signs of wear and use are evident on the metal case, canvas carrying case, and the machine itself and are characteristic of machines that have seen use with troops in the field. The M-209-B is the model of this cipher machine that followed the M-209-A. The differences between the models were minor changes to improve manufacturing efficiency and all models were compatible with each other. 

The M-209 is a portable hand-operated mechanical cipher machine initially developed in the late 1930s by the entrepreneur and inventor, Boris Hagelin. Hagelin fled Sweden for the United States at the outbreak of WWII and worked with the US Military to refine his cipher machine design. The M-209 was the result of this collaboration and the machine would be used by the US during WWII as well as many other countries for decades after the end of the war. The relationship between Hagelin and the US goes much deeper than the collaborations during WWII. A February 2020 article in the Washington Post details the secret relationship Hagelin had with the CIA and German Intelligence services. See details below.

This rotor-based cipher machine does not require electricity and is lightweight and durable. Therefore, it was perfectly suited for tactical front line use. While the code generated by the M-209 was not as strong as the Enigma code, and could sometimes be read within 4 to 24 hours by the Germans, it was considered secure enough for tactical messages that were of no value after that length of time. The US military used the M-209-B in both Europe and the Pacific during World War II. The M-209 cipher machines were easy to use and produce and were used by the US Army throughout the Korean War and into the early 1960s.

M-209-B cipher machines were manufactured under license from Hagelin by LC Smith Corona Typewriters, Inc., in Syracuse, New York. The machines were supplied with a canvas carrying case, paper tape, and an operator’s manual. Inside the metal case lid were more paper tape, an ink reservoir, lubricant, an adjustment screwdriver, and a pair of tweezers for feeding the paper tape through the machine.

This M-209-B, serial number 14701, is available for sale and located in the United States. Price does not include shipping.

Price: SOLD

See Pictures Below.


Details of the secret relationship between the CIA and German Intelligence services and Boris Hagelin.

In February 2020, the Washington Post published an article detailing the relationship between Boris Hagelin’s company, Crypto AG, and the intelligence services of the US and Germany. Following Hagelin’s collaboration with the US military to develop and manufacture the M-209 during WWII, Hagelin returned to Europe after the war and established Crypto AG in Switzerland to manufacture advanced cipher machines for sale worldwide. The US, fearing that Hagelin’s advanced cipher machine technologies would hinder the US in its intelligence gathering, struck a secret deal with Crypto AG in 1952. This initial arrangement limited Crypto AG from selling its most advanced technology to certain countries. This allowed the CIA to more easily read encrypted messages from these countries. The arrangement exchanged cash from the CIA for technical design and sales restrictions over Crypto AG’s products and customers. This arrangement expanded in 1970 when the CIA and Germany’s BND Intelligence agency secretly bought Crypto AG from Boris Hagelin. The joint ownership of Crypto AG lasted for decades and allowed the US and Germany unprecedented access to secret communications from more than 62 countries around the world and the United Nations. The arrangement lasted from 1970 through 2017 when the Crypto AG assets were sold off. The Washington Post article was compiled with assistance from Marc Simons and Paul Reuvers (www.cryptomuseum.com).

Link to Washington Post Article ‘The intelligence coup of the century’


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