You never know what will turn up on eBay.
Volunteers from the National Museum of Computing in Bletchley Park, England, found the keyboard of a Lorenz machine—a cipher system used to create encrypted Nazi messages during WWII—for sale on eBay for 9.50 GBP, or less than 15 bucks. When a museum volunteer traveled to Essex to inspect the hardware, he found the keyboard in its original casing, out in a shed, buried under a pile of rubbish. The volunteer gladly paid 10 GBP for the keyboard and went on his way.
The "teleprinter" looks like a typewriter, and it was used to enter messages in plain German before the Lorenz cipher machine itself used 12 individual wheels to encrypt the message. Three Lorenz machines—larger and more intricate than the Enigma machines—were used by the German high command to send classified messages during World War II, including personal messages from Hitler to his generals.
British codebreaker and mathematician William "Bill" Tutte was able to envision the structure of a Lorenz machine without ever seeing one, allowing the Allies to decipher top-secret Nazi communications and gain a significant advantage over Germany in the war.
Finding the teleprinter brings the Museum of Computing one step closer to having a complete, functioning Lorenz machine. , the Museum is only missing one last component before they can recreate the process of encoding a German message: the electric motor that drives the gears on the Lorenz machine. The museum is asking the public to keep an eye out for the motor, possibly for sale on eBay, and is considering building one to run the machine in the meantime.