Is The Imitation Game a true story?

What a spell-binding film but what a travesty! To make the story even more dramatic than real life, director Morten Tyldum introduced numerous distortions. The website Information is Beautiful analyses 17 films which claim to be based on true stories, scoring each scene according to how true it actually is.

Of the 17, ‘The Imitation Game’ comes a miserable bottom, with a truth rating of only 41.4%, way below any of the others.

One part that was accurate however, was the depiction of the Engima machine that was shown in the short U-boat scene. I know this because it was my 4-rotor Enigma machine that was used in the film!

4 Rotor Engima Machine
Dr Baldwin’s 4-rotor Enigma machine, as seen in The Imitation Game

A wacky typewriter: Enigma machine bought for €100 in Romania

I have often heard stories of people who saw a ‘funny looking typewriter’, but failed to buy it. Later, they realised it had been an Enigma machine, but it had gone by the time they went back. I’ve always treated such tales as urban myths, but a more credible version of the story emerged via the BBC last month.

A knowledgeable Romanian mathematician spotted a ‘funny looking typewriter’ in a flea market, priced at 100 Euros. Recognising exactly what it actually was (a 3-rotor Enigma) he snapped it up, and sent it to auction, when it fetched 42,000 Euros. I am reliably informed that the buyer is now looking for £75,000.

It’s thought that around 30,000 Enigma machines were made, but although the vast majority were destroyed during the war, there are still some hiding out there, waiting to be found. Keep your eyes open!

Enigma Machine @ Turing Fest 2017

Last week I was in Edinburgh, invited by the organisers to speak at the Turing Fest – Scotland’s biggest Tech gathering.


My role was not only to give a presentation explaining something of the workings of the Enigma machine, but also to mount a display, allowing participants to operate a genuine wartime Enigma machine.


Despite being an almost one hundred year old piece of technology, the Enigma Machine story continues to fascinate younger generations and I was presenting alongside speakers from some of today’s top tech companies including: Google, Microsoft, Y Combinator, TechCrunch, Skyscanner, Moz, Trello and Github.

My hands-on demonstrations and my talk seemed to go down well with what was cleary a very technologically-savvy group of people, and one of my younger audiences.

A big thanks to Turing Fest for inviting me up to Scotland to share the Engima Story with such a lovely and interested crowd. I hope to see you again next year.

Here are a few tweets from some of the Turing Fest attendees: