Lot #2126
Russian Fialka M-125 Cipher Machine

The Soviet Union's Cold War answer to the 'Enigma'


The Soviet Union's Cold War answer to the 'Enigma'

Scarce original Cold War-era Russian M-125 cipher machine, codenamed 'Fialka,' in its original case with separate original power supply. The machine's case measures 11″ x 13″ x 9″, and is stenciled on the front with its serial number, "98-70248," matching the numbers located on the interior. The suitcase-style power supply box measures 10.5″ x 6″ x 7″, and is stenciled with the serial number "98-70230." It is not supplied with a power cord and should only be connected to the power supply by a qualified electrician.

The Fialka is an electromechanical, wheel-based code-generating and decoding machine. Its development came after World War II, and was based loosely on the German Enigma machine, with rotors moving to a new position each time a key is pressed, creating a new electrical circuit and an alphabetic substitution for the letter that was pressed. However, the Fialka incorporates a number of different features from the Enigma that made it a much more daunting cipher-generating machine. These features include the use of 10 rotors (each with 30 contacts), wheels rotating in opposite directions, and more frequent wheel stepping. In addition, the rotors could be quickly rewired in the field, and input and output from the machine was accelerated via the use of punched paper tape. This example has ten rotors installed in the device's drum, and an additional set of ten spare rotors held inside the case's lid, plus one single extra rotor.

Being regularly produced starting in 1956, the Fialka quickly became a primary cipher machine for all of the Warsaw Pact countries and Cuba. Each country had the Fialka keyboard modified to their language—this example has Cyrillic and Latin characters—and had specially wired rotors. The Fialka was in use by Russia and its allies well into the 1990s, and very little information was available about this machine until 2005 as it had been kept secret. Few Fialka machines remain as they were systematically destroyed by the Soviet Union and its successors as the machines have been taken out of service.

In very good to fine condition. While the machine does power up and the primary electric motor does function, we do not guarantee that this machine is fully functional. Accompanied by a Russian Cold War-era telegraph key and a detailed reference manual in English, compiled by Paul Reuvers. An important piece of Cold War code-making history.

Auction Info

  • Auction Title: Science & Technology and Space Exploration
  • Dates: #588 - Ended July 16, 2020