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TROL
Tapeless Rotorless Online cipher machine - Wanted item

TROL was a combination of a modified Ecolex-IV cipher machine, a unit for editing the key settings (SIMILEX), and a key stream generator (TAROLEX). It was developed by Philips Usfa between 1962 and 1965 for a NATO evaluation. TROL stands for Tapeless Rotorless On-Line. The machine was never built however, as the evaluation was lost to the much larger ALVIS (BID 610).

As far as we know, there are no Philips-developed TROL units left and, until now, no photographs have ever been published. We have reason to believe however, that the image on the right shows in fact one of the TROL prototypes that were developed.

The image shows two units at the bottom, with a modified Ecolex-IV unit on top of them. The unit at the bottom left clearly shows the key tape reader that would later appear on the TAROLEX 19". The unit at the bottom right is probably the key check unit. It would later be integrated with in the final TAROLEX 19" design.

The image of the opened tape reader clearly shows the pins that would read the key tape. Another image below, shows an early design of the same key tape reader. TROL consisted of:
  • ECOLEX-IV
  • TAROLEX
  • SIMILEX
The second image below shows another prototype, in which the TAROLEX is a stand-alone unit, mounted on top of the SIMILEX and the checker, instead of the modified Ecolex-IV. It was probably designed to be used in combination with a standard Ecolex-IV unit.
  

Also below are images of various stages of the TAROLEX design. As the NATO evaluation for TROL was lost to the British ALVIS (BID 610), the project was discontinued and TROL was not taken into production, although parts of it would be used in later projects.

Most of the technology developed for TROL would be (re)used in 1966/67, when developing Tarolex 19" for the Royal Dutch Army. An early protype for that project is also shown below. The later Ecolex X cipher machine should be considered an improved version of TROL/Tarolex, in which the key tape reader was replaced by a set of thumbwheels.


References
  1. Photographs from Philips Usfa
    Crypto Museum Archive.

  2. Philips Usfa, Internal Memo L/5636/AvdP/JG
    23 August 1982, page 3.
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