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Crypto AG   Hagelin
Hagelin cipher machines · 1950-2019

Crypto AG, also known as Hagelin Cryptos, Hagelin Crypto Company and CAG, was a Swiss manufacturer of cryptographic equipment, headquartered in Stein­hausen 1 (Switzerland). The company was founded in 1952 2 by Boris Hagelin, and was the successor to A.B. Cryptoteknik in Stockholm (Sweden). In 2018, Crypto AG's portfolio was taken over by Crypto International AG, along with the existing personnel and buildings. In 2019, the old Crypto AG was liquidated.

 History of Crypto AG

Crypto AG has often been accused of providing backdoors to foreign intelligence services. In 2014, the NSA revealed that Hagelin indeed had a gentleman's agreement with them from 1951 onwards. In 2020, it was revealed that from 1960, the company had a licencing agreement with the CIA, and that in 1970, Crypto AG was purchased by the German BND and the American CIA.

From 1994 onwards the company was owned solely by the CIA [11]. Crypto AG was liquidated in late 2019, after its portfolio had been taken over by Crypto International AG in early 2018 [9]. On 3 July 2020, following actions by the Swiss Government, Crypto Internal fired its entire staff [12].

  1. Near Zug.
  2. Actually, the company was founded in 1950, but did not become operational until 1952.

Hagelin machines on this website
B-21, Hagelin's first cipher machine
B-211, the successor to the B-21
M-209 (CX-38)
BC-39 (motorised version of BC-38 / M-209)
C-446-A and C-446(RT)
C-52 and accessories
30-character version of the C-52 with Arabic symbols
CX-52 with removable wheels and irregular stepping
30-character version of the CX-52
B-52 keyboard unit for C-52 and CX-52 cipher machines
B-62 keyboard unit for C-52 and CX-52 cipher machines
Tape reader/puncher for CX-52/B-621 combination
TC-52, a hybrid on-line cipher machine
BC-543, the successor to the BC-38
CD-55 pocket cipher machine (less-secure version of the CD-57)
CD-57 pocket cipher machine
Hagelin HX-63 rotor-based cipher machine
H-460, the first electronic Hagelin cipher machine based on shift-registers
Hagelin CSE-280 voice encryption device
Crypto AG (Hagelin) bulk encryption device
HC-520 CRYPTOMATIC portable off-line cipher machine
HC-530 CRYPTOMATIC portable electronic cipher machine
HC-550 CRYPTOMATIC desktop electronic cipher machine
HC-570 CRYPTOMATIC desktop electronic cipher machine
Rackmount model for serial computer signals
F/T voice scrambler for telephone and HF radio
Hagelin CVX-396 (SVZ-B) voice encryptor
CRM-008 CRYPTOCOM - Voice Crypto Unit
HC-3300 Secure Crypto Phone
HC-4220 Fax Encryptor
HC-2203 PSTN Phone Encryptor
Hand-held message terninal with encryption
Cryptovox SE-160 secure handheld VHF/UHF radio
Cryptovox SE-660 secure mobile VHF/UHF radio
Cryptovox SE-580 (CSE-580) semi-portable radio
Cryptovox CSE-580 semi-portable radio
Key entry device for the HC-3400 CRYPTOVOX embedded encryption unit
Secure GSM phone
Data encryptor
Various Hagelin-related items
CRYPTOCOM family of voice scramblers
CRYPTOVOX family of voice encryptors
CRYPTOMATIC family of text encryptors
Full history of Crypto AG
The Gentleman's Agreement -- a non-written agreement between NSA and Hagelin
Operation THESAURUS / RUBICON -- the secret purchase of Crypto AG by CIA and BND
Various Hagelin-related items
The model numbers of the early Hagelin machines are often related to the year in which they were developed (e.g. the C-35 was developed in 1935). Furthermore, the letter B is added before the model number if the unit has a keyboard.

The B-21 was the first cipher machine developed by Boris Hagelin. He designed the machine in 1921 when he was working for the Damm brothers in Sweden. Physically, it resembles the Enigma machine but internally it scrambles wires in a 5 x 5 matrix, controlled by 4 pin-wheels.

The machine was thought to be more secure than the Enigma, but this was not the case.

 More information

B-211   wanted
The B-211 was developed by Boris Hagelin in 1923, especially for the French Army. It was based on the B-21 but featured a printer instead of the lamp panel. The machine was built before and after WWII by L.M. Ericsson in Paris, under licence by Hagelin.

This machine was also copied by the Russians, who gave it a 5 x 6 matrix and named it K-37.

 More information

C-35   wanted
The C-35 is the first fully mechanical pin-and-lug machine developed by Hagelin. It is much smaller than later machines of the same class and was initially developed for the French Army, who wanted the machine to fit the pocket of the army trousers.

In November 2008 we had the opportunity to take some detailed photographs of this machine from Crypto AG's private Hagelin collection.

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C-36   wanted
The C-36 is one of the first mechanical pin-and-lug machines developed by Hagelin. It is larger than the C-35 and resembles the M-209 in shape. Unlike the M-209, however, the tabs on the metal bars inside the machine are not movable.

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C-37   wanted
The C-37 is one of the successors to the C-36. It was manufactured for the French Navy by L.M. Ericsson in Colombes (France) under licence of Hagelin. The machine was also used for French-British liaisons.

In September 2009 we had the opportunity to see a C-37 for the first time when it was shown by GCHQ on the Enigma Reunion 2009 at Bletchley Park.

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C-38 and M-209
Based on the C-38, Hagelin developed the M-209 for the American Army, shortly before WWII. It's a small compact mechanical machine that remained in service until after the Vietnam War.

As the machine could be broken by the Germans in less than 4 hours, it was only used for tactical field messages. The M-209 was built under licence by Smith Corona in the USA.

 More information

The BC-38 is in fact a C-38 with a keyboard and a motor. It is compatible with the C-38 — and therefore also with the American M-209 — and was used during WWII by the American Army, mainly in command centres.

A later version is known as the BC-543.

 More information

The C-446 is a typical military Hagelin machine. The machine shown here was used by the Dutch Navy and was available in two versions: the standard C-446-A and an C-446-RT. The latter used a Random Tape rather than coding wheels.

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C-52 and CX-52
Designed around 1952, the CX-52 is probably one Hagelin's most successful mechanical cipher machines. Numerous variants were developed, such as the standard CX-52, an RT-version (Random Tape) and even an Arabic version.

The CX-52 was introduced in the early 1950s and remained in use as a backup in some countries until the late 1990s.

 More information

The TC-52 was an on-line cipher machine for teletype-based communication systems (Telex), developed between 1954 and 1955 by Crypto AG in Zug (Switzerland).

It was an improved version of the earlier T-52 machine (1951-1952) and was a hybrid between a wheel-based mechanical cipher machine (i.e. an M-209 or C-38) and a mixer machine.

 More information

The BC-543 is a rather strange member of the Hagelin family. As the name suggests, it was developed around 1954. It is, however, not based on the C-52 that was developed two years earlier, but rather on the BC-38 which in turn was based on the C-38 a.k.a. M-209. The BC-543 is in fact functionally identical to the BC-38 and differs only in minor details.

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The CD-57 is a portable machanical cipher machine that is small enough to fit the pocket of a coat. It was introduced in 1957 and was based on the design of the earlier CD-55. It has 6 coding wheels and is crypto compatible with the C-52.

The CD-57 was also built under licence by Hell as the STG-61.

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HX-63 was the only rotor-based cipher machine, made by Hagelin around 1963. The machine is similar in design to the American KL-7 that was used by NATO, and uses some of the same principles. It even interferes with a KL-7 patent.

The machine marks the transition between the mechanical and the electronic era, and came too late to be success­ful. Only 50 to 100 units were manufactured, 12 of which were ordered by the French Army.

 More information


ULES-64 is an electronic One-Time Tape (OTT) cipher machine for 5-bit telegraphy (telex). It is also backwards compatible with Hagelin's earlier mechanical OTT-machines, like the CX-52/RT and the C-446/RT, also known as the RT/CX.

 More information

CSE-280 was Hagelin's first truely digital voice encryptor, developed in the late 1960s in cooperation with the German cipher authority Zentralstelle für das Chiffrierwesen (ZfCh).

It uses delta-modulation and offers strong digital encryption, but contains an exploitable weakness that allowed ZfCh (later also NSA) to break it. The algorithm was improved in 1976.

 More information

H-460 was the first electronic cipher machine of Crypto AG that used shift-register technology. In was introduced in 1970, and was re-released in 1972 with an extended model number, such as H-4605, after a number of problems were fixed.

The cryptologic of the machine was developed by the NSA and has an exploitable weakness, also known as a backdoor, that makes it readable.

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HC-570 was the first fully electronic cipher machine made by Crypto AG, that featured microprocessor technology and in which the algorithm was implemented in software.

The machine was partly developed by Motorola and was a member of the CRYPTOMATIC family, also known as the HC-500 series. The crypto­graphic algorithm was develop by the NSA.

 More information

HC-520 is a portable variant of the HC-570 desktop machine (above). It was introduced in 1977 as a competitor to the Gretacoder 905, and was partly developed by Siemens.

The device uses a cryptographic algorithm that was developed by the NSA, and is compatible with other members of the CRYPTOMATIC family.

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HC-550 was a desktop cipher machine, based on a standard Siemens T-1000 teleprinter, to which a cipher attachment was added at the bottom. It was introduced in 1978, as the successor to the expensive and complicated HC-570.

The machine was introduced in 1978 and is compatible with other members of the HC-500 series (CRYPTOMATIC).

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HC-530 was the briefcase variant of the HC-500 series (CRYPTOMATIC). It was introduced around 1981 and was available in two version: civil and military, supplied in a Samsonite briefcase or a green military Haliburton-style case respectively.

The device was partly developed by Motorola and features a cryptographic algorithm with an exploitable weakness, developed by the NSA.

 More information

CRM-008   HC-230
In the mid-1970s, Crypto AG (Hagelin) developed a series of voice crypto untits, aimed at both the civilian and military market. This was called the CRYPTOCOM CRM-008 product line.

The CRM-008 was introduced in 1975 and was sold well into the 1990s. This machine is sometimes identified as the Hagelin HC-230 (civilian version) or HC-235 (military version).

 More information

CVX-396   SVZ-B
CVX-396 is a true voice encryption device, introduced in the late 1970s as the successor to the CSE-280. It is far more secure that a simple speech scrambler, at the expense of a higher band­width, as a result of which it is only suitable for use on VHF and UHF radio circuits.

A more secure variant – known as SVZ-B – was made for the Swiss Army. It is likely that this version offers a higher level of security.

 More information


HC-250 was a two-dimensional voice scrambler, also known as an F/T speech scrambler, that was intended for use on narrowband speech circuits, such as analogue telephone and HF radio.

The device can be seen as the successor to the CRM-008, and offers good quality speech, with no residual intelligible voice in the channel.

 More information

The CRYPTOVOX HC-3300 is a secure telephone set with digital encryption, developed by Crypto AG in Switzerland in the early 1990s. It can be connected to a PSTN line and is suitable for voice, data and facsimile traffic. A smart-card is used for key distribution.

 More information

The HC-3400 was an embedded encryption unit, implemented as a chip, that could be built inside a communication device, such as a half-duplex handheld FM/PM radio.

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The CRYPTOFAX HC-4220 was a fax encryptor developed by Crypto AG in Switzerland in the early 1990s. It allowed facsimile messages to be sent securely by any Group 3 fax unit via standard PSTN (analogue) telephone lines, at speeds between 2400 and 14,400 baud.

The HC-4220 was available from 1994 until 2002 when it was replaced by its successor the HC-4221, that is still available today (2011).

 More information

The HC-2203 is a PSTN telephone encryptor. It was introduced in the early 2000s, and can be connected between any ordinary telephone set and an analogue telephone line (PSTN).

It is compatible with the HC-24x3 secure GSM phone and is still available from Crypto AG in Switzerland today (2011).

 More information

The Cryptomatic HC-5000 series was the successor to the HC-500 series and offered advanced cryptographic security in a variety of devices, such as the HC-5200, HC-5300, HC-5500 and the HC-5700.

The HC-5205 shown here is a customer-specific variant of the HC-5200 and was made especially for the Yugoslav armed forces.

 More information

The SE-160 was a secure handheld FM/PM VHF/UHF radio, that was developed and built by Ascom and sold by Crypto AG as a rebadged product. The SE-160 features Crypto AG's own HC-3400 embedded speech encryption unit.

The device is compatible with the Hagelin SE-580 portable radio and was also sold by Ascom, Bosch and Motorola.

 More information

KED-3400 is a key entry device, or key filler, for HC-3400 CRYPTOVOX compatible devices, such as the Ascom SE-160 and SE-660 radios.

Keys can be entered manual via the keyboard, but can also be generated automatically by the built-in random number generator.

 More information

This is a genuine Swiss Army Knife with the Hagelin logo on its side. It was probably a promotional gift from Crypto AG. Follow the link below to see more Hagelin-related items.

 Hagelin varia


Known Hagelin devices
Cipher machines
Fax encryptors
  • HC-440
  • HC-442
  • HC-4200
  • HC-4700
  • HC-4750
  • HC-4800
Data encryptors
  • HC-740
  • HC-860
  • HC-865
  • HC-7200
  • HC-7400
  • HC-7500
  • HC-7550
Bulk encryptors
Device families

House magazines
In the past, Crypto AG published its own full-colour magazine, which was sent to customers around the world two or three times a year. These magazines could also be downloaded from Crypto AG's website in a variety of languages. With the demise of Crypto AG and its successor in 2020, the website has largely become defunct and the house magazines are no longer available.

Below is a list of Crypto Magazines of which we have a digital copy available for download. You can help us to expand the list, by sending us (digital) copies of any missing releases.

Der Insider
Apart from the publicly available magazines listed above, Crypto AG also regularly issued an internal magazine — Hauszeitung Der Insider — that was available only to Crypto AG personnel. Please help us to expand this list by sending us (digital) copies of any missing releases.

  1. Chiffriertechnik Heute
    Vorlesung Krieg im Aether 1976/1977, ETH Zürich. 1
    Lecture (German). Oskar Stüzinger, 1977.
  1. Retrieved from HAMFU History, December 2018.

  1. Boris Hagelin, Die Geschichte der Hagelin-Cryptos
    Original manuscript by Boris Hagelin in German language. Zug, Fall 1979.

  2. Boris Hagelin, The Story of Hagelin Cryptos
    English translation of the above. BCW Hagelin, Zug, Spring 1981. Later edited by David Kahn and published in Cryptologia, Volume 18, Issue 3, July 1994, pp 204-242.

  3. Hans Stadlin, 100 Jahre Boris Hagelin 1892-1992 (German)
    Crypto AG. Crypto Hauszeitung Nr. 11. Jubilieumausgabe September 1992.

  4. Crypto AG, Crypto Magazine 2009, number 1
    Retrieved August 2009.

  5. Crypto AG, Company brochure
    Date unknown, but probably 1978. 24 pages.

  6. Crypto AG, Company brochure, Top Services
    1986. 8 pages.

  7. Crypto AG, Company brochure, Crypto Products
    1992. 8 pages.

  8. Crypto AG, Vertraulich (company brochure, German)
    1992. 18 pages.

  9. Crypto AG, Crypto AG is gearing up for future growth
    Steinhausen (Switzerland), 24 January 2018

  10. Crypto AG, Press release, background information
    Steinhausen (Switzerland), 24 January 2018

  11. Paul Reuvers & Marc Simons, Operation RUBICON
    Crypto Museum, 19 March 2020.

  12. Marcel Gyr, Crypto International enlässt fast die gesamte Belegschaft —
    als Folge eines fragwürdigen Enscheids des Bundesrats
    Neue Züricher Zeitung (NZZ), 3 July 2020.
Further information
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Crypto Museum. Created: Tuesday 04 August 2009. Last changed: Monday, 15 January 2024 - 17:01 CET.
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