LDS Man Creates Unbelievably Complex WWII Enigma Machine from Scratch

by | Mar. 01, 2017

Mormon Life

With over 2,000 parts that rotate and interlock not to mention no plans save only pictures, a WWII Enigma machine would be nearly impossible to reproduce—unless you are Latter-day Saint Reid Haroldsen. The machine has already gained some notoriety and will appear at the American Computer and Robotics Museum. It even caught the attention of Sir Dermot Turing.

Reid Haroldsen is a man with a mind of metal and wheels.

"We kind of had this joke that I was a dirty old man that was into heavy metal," he said, speaking of how he and his wife refer to his hobby.

But that "hobby" borders on being an obsession. . . . Haroldsen has even constructed an airplane for children.

"It's kind of a simulator," he said. "You can put a kid in it, and he can fly it. It banks, tilts, yaws." . . .

Haroldsen credits the 2014 movie "The Imitation Game" for sparking his next idea.

"It quite fascinated me," he said. "I got to wondering, with the tools I had, if it'd be possible to make."

That movie tells the story of how a man named Alan Turing cracked a Nazi encryption device called the Enigma machine during World War II.

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"Hitler had all these troops out in the field," Haroldsen said. "You can't send information back and forth without us, the Allies, listening in, because then they'll know all the plans."

Always fascinated by machines, Haroldsen was spellbound. Here was a mechanism that was complicated beyond the wildest dreams of any metalworking hobbyist — to him, it represented the ultimate challenge.

Images from KSL
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