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ME-540
Pocket-size electronic cipher machine - wanted item

The ME-540 was an electronic pocket-size cipher machine, developed and produced by Mils Elektronik in Mils (Austria), probably in the mid-1980s, as the successor to the PCCM-4000. It has the look and feel of the Casio, Panasonic, Radio Shack and Sharp pocket computers of the era.

The device measures 227 x 95 x 30 mm and has an LCD screen at the top center. Below the LCD are five rows of keys arranged in a matrix. Although the device looks similar to a pocket calculator of the 1980s, it is much thicker (30 mm rather than just 5) in order to accomodate the electronics. It could be used stand-alone, or in a more complete modular arrangement.

The image on the right shows the bare ME-540, without the printer and the acoustic coupler [3]. In practice, it was often built inside an executive style briefcase, together with the ancillaries.
  
ME-540 portable cipher machine

The device is housed inside a bright blue plastic enclosure, with the keyboard and display protruding at the top. At the right side is a socket for the power supply unit, whilst a wide expansion slot is located at the left side. The expansion slot can be used to connect the thermal printer or the acoustic coupler (or both when using the right adapters as shown below).

The image on the right shows the ME-540 at the heart of a portable cipher system, packed inside an executive style briefcase, ready for use. The system shown here probably demonstrates the most complete configuration. Apart from the ME-540, there is a mains power supply, the thermal printer, the modem and several other modules.

The ME-540 was available in the standard Latin keyboard layout (e.g. QWERTY), but was also available for other languages. The original user manual (available for download below) shows for example the keyboard layout of the Arab version.
  
The ME-540 with accessories, packed inside a briefcase [1]

The design of the ME-540 is based on the Panasonic Hand Held Computer (HCC) RL-H1800 with 8KB of RAM, expanded with an RL-P1004A printer, an RL-P6001 I/O adapter and an RL-P4001 acoustic modem. The computer is built around an 6502 processor running at 1 MHz. It has four sockets for EPROM sockets at the bottom, that were replaced by Mils to convert it into an ME-540.

ME-540 portable cipher machine Thermal printer ME-540 with the thermal printer attached at the left Top view of the ME-540 Left side of the ME-540 with the expansion slot Acoustic coupler with handset Acoustic coupler attached to the ME-540 The ME-540 with accessories, packed inside a briefcase [1]
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ME-540 portable cipher machine
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Thermal printer
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ME-540 with the thermal printer attached at the left
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Top view of the ME-540
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Left side of the ME-540 with the expansion slot
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Acoustic coupler with handset
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Acoustic coupler attached to the ME-540
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The ME-540 with accessories, packed inside a briefcase [1]

Help required
At present, we have no further information about the ME-540 available. You can help us expanding this page, by supplying additional information, such as the operator's instructions or -better- the actual ME-540 unit. If you think you can help, please contact us.


References
  1. Mils Electronic, Image of ME-540 pocket cipher machine
    Retrieved June 2013.

  2. Mils Elektronik, ME 540 User Manual
    15 pages. Date unknown, but probably mid-1980s.

  3. Crypto Museum, Images of ME-540 cipher machine
    2 August 2013. Courtesy Mils Electronic.
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Crypto Museum. Created: Monday 10 June 2013. Last changed: Sunday, 16 September 2018 - 06:55 CET.
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