Russian cipher device pursued by Bond (Sean Connery) in From Russia with Love. Referred to as a Spektor in Ian Fleming’s original novel—the screenwriters changed it to Lektor when they made the criminal organization SPECTRE the villains of the film—it was based on the Enigma, an actual cipher machine used by the Germans to encrypt and decrypt secret messages during World War II. It proved key to Allied victory when Britain’s Ultra program cracked the Enigma code.
The truth about the Enigma machine, Ultra, and Ian Fleming’s part in the program wasn’t revealed until 1975, when British wartime secrets were first declassified. Sir William Stephenson, the head of Ultra and a close friend of Fleming, revealed the secrets of Fleming’s own contribution in his book A Man Called Intrepid. This concise history of British intelligence activities explained a great deal of the source material upon which Fleming based his James Bond novels, including the Spektor/Lektor decoder of From Russia with Love.
In the film, the Lektor weighs ten kilograms and is carried in a brown case like a typewriter. It has self-calibrating and manual capabilities, with a built-in compensator. There are twenty-four symbols and sixteen code keys on its keyboard. Inside, the mechanism includes a light and perforated copper disks. M states that the British Secret Service has been attempting to obtain a Russian Lektor for years. Now, according to their station contact in Istanbul—Ali Kerim Bey (Pedro Armendariz)—a Russian embassy cipher clerk named Tatiana Romanova (Daniela Bianchi) will steal the Lektor if James Bond (Sean Connery) comes to Istanbul and helps her defect. All of this, of course, is an intricate SPECTRE trap.
The Lektor is first seen in the communications room of the Russian embassy in Istanbul, where it is captured by Bond after the building is dynamited by Kerim Bey. Bond carries it aboard the Orient Express and eventually brings it to Venice, where it is nearly stolen back by Rosa Klebb (Lotte Lenya) before she is killed by Romanova.