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TROL
Tapeless Rotorless Online cipher machine - wanted item

TROL was Philips' contribution to a NATO evaluation of 1962 for a Tapeless Rotorless On-Line cipher machine (TROL). It was a combination of a modified Ecolex IV cipher machine, a unit for editing the key settings (SIMILEX), and a key generator (TAROLEX). It was never released, as the evaluation was lost to the British BID/610 (ALVIS) [3], but parts were used in later designs.

TROL consisted of the following three units: The image on the right shows a complete early setup. At the top is an Ecolex IV cipher machine of which both tape readers have been removed. One tape reader is replaced by a key generator, whilst the other one is replaced by a teleprinter. The modified Ecolex IV is only used as a mixer. In a later version of the TROL design, it was replaced by a simplified unit which contained a mixer and interfaces for teleprinter and line.

The unit at the bottom left has a hinged door behind which a short piece of punched paper tape can be installed in a special reader. It is used as the seed for the key generator. This part was later reused in the Tarolex 19" design.

As far as we know, there are no surviving Philips TROL units, and the photo­graphs below and on the right are the only evidence that the machine ever existed. The images below show the various development stages of the design, with the final design consisting of just two units — the key generator and the mixer/interface — that were fitted in a single 19" rackmount front panel.
  
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As the NATO evaluation for TROL was lost in 1962 to the British BID/610 (ALVIS) [3], the project was discontinued and TROL was never taken into production. Nevertheless parts of it would be reused in later projects, in particular in the Tarolex 19" that was developed in 1966/67 for the Royal Dutch Army as a gap-fill solution until the all new Ecolex X cipher machine was ready.

 More about Tarolex

Initial version of TROL with a modified Ecolex IV at the top
Later version of TROL in which the Ecolex IV has been replaced by a simplified unit
Early development version of the key tape reader
Later key tape reader with hinged access door
Early design of the mixer (with teleprinter and line interfaces)
Later design of the mixer (with teleprinter and line interfaces)
Final TROL design with key generator (left) and mixer/interface (right) in a rackmount panel
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Initial version of TROL with a modified Ecolex IV at the top
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Later version of TROL in which the Ecolex IV has been replaced by a simplified unit
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Early development version of the key tape reader
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Later key tape reader with hinged access door
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Early design of the mixer (with teleprinter and line interfaces)
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Later design of the mixer (with teleprinter and line interfaces)
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Final TROL design with key generator (left) and mixer/interface (right) in a rackmount panel

References
  1. Photographs from Philips Usfa
    Crypto Museum Archive.

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

  3. Standing Group, ALVIS, UK Communications Security Equipment
    NATO Memo SGM-263-62, 17 April 1962. NATO-SECRET
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Crypto Museum. Created: Saturday 15 June 2013. Last changed: Wednesday, 15 March 2023 - 11:51 CET.
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