Online auction website eBay contains a variety of treasures, including once numerous VHS tapes now selling for thousands upon thousands of dollars.
On the other end of the spectrum, there are some items listed on eBay that are being sold for a very cheap price. For treasure hunters, these are the finds worth trawling through the website for.
One of such treasures was snagged by a group of volunteers for the National Museum of Computing, a priceless World War 2 artifact that was sold at £9.50, equivalent to about $14.
The seller was advertising an old device as a telegram machine, and had it listed on eBay for the stated amount. However, the true nature of the device was something much more important to World War 2 history.
The extremely rare machine known as the Lorenz teleprinter was used by Adolf Hitler and his generals in sending out confidential messages between each other. Compared to the more famous Enigma machine, which sent coded messages to Germany's frontline units, the Lorenz coding system was utilized to send Hitler's orders exclusively to commanders and high-ranking officials.
The users would enter German messages in the machine, which resembled a typewriter, then the messages had been encrypted by a cipher machine linked to the device. The cipher machine had 12 wheels with multiple settings on each of them to generate the code.
The item acquired by the museum volunteers was the keyboard of the Lorenz teleprinter. The researchers first thought they were only able to acquire a version of the machine that was used by civilians. However, they discovered a unique military serial number on the device, along with the swastika symbol, which were signs that the Lorenz teleprinter keyboard they bought was a part of the system which Hitler himself used.
There were only 200 of these Lorenz teleprinters ever made, with historians believing that most of them were destroyed by the German forces upon their retreat at the end of World War 2.
The museum volunteers are looking to recreate the coding process on June 3, including typing German messages and then cracking the codes. The volunteers will utilize a part of the machine sourced from Norway that matches with its official serial number, but there is still one piece missing.
The motor that powers the machine is still not found, and the volunteers are calling for help from the community to be on the lookout for it. The motor looks like an electric one enclosed in a black shell, with two shafts on each side.