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Pocket-size electronic cipher machine - wanted item

The PCCM-4000 was an electronic cipher machine in the shape of an early calculator, developed by Mils Elektronik in Mils (Austria) in the late 1970s, shortly after the first microprocessors had become available. It contained a high-end cipher machine, but could also be used as a calculator.

The device rougly has the same size of a pocket calculator of the era and allowed the operator to travel inconspiciously with it. The unit was powered by three AA-size penlight batteries, allowing 7 hours of uninterrupted use. The image on the right shows a typical PCCM-4000.

At the front panel are 30 green push-buttons; 26 for the letters of the Latin alphabet, plus 4 additional buttons for dot, comma, space and up/down. At the top of the keyboard are two slide-switches with two positions each. The leftmost switch selects the mode of operation: decription (D) or encryption (E). The rightmost switch is used to select between two memories: M1 and M2. Above the keyboard is a LCD screen that can show five 16-segment characters, plus six operator indicators.

At the heart of the PCCM-4000 is a military-grade single-chip microcontroller made by Harris. The device contains two different non-linear cipher algorithms that each allow 1030 different message keys to be used.

In addition, the device generates random initialization cryptograms in order to prevent frequently used phrases or opening sentences from generating identical ciphertext each time. Furthermore, the PCCM-4000 contains a customer-programmable system key in EPROM. If a unit is lost, the user only has to chang the built-in system key using a programming kit supplied by Mils.

In the early 1980s, the PCCM-4000 was succeeded by the ME-540. The ME-540 was larger than the PCCM-4000, but was more flexible and offered better expandibility. Looking like an early Casio or Sharp pocket computer, the ME-540 had a printer and a telephone modem.

Mils PCCM-4000 pocket cipher machine

Help required
At present, we have no further information about the PCCM-4000 available. You can help us expanding this page, by supplying additional information, such as the operator's instructions or -better- the actual PCCM-4000 unit. If you think you can help, please contact us.

  1. Crypto Museum, Image of PCCM-4000 cipher machine
    2 August 2013. Courtesy Mils Electronic.

  2. Mils Elektronik, PCCM 4000 Brochure
    3-page brochure. Date unknown, but probably early 1980s.
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Crypto Museum. Created: Monday 10 June 2013. Last changed: Saturday, 24 February 2018 - 13:46 CET.
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