Magazine article Management Services

Visit to the National Computing Museum, Bletchley Park

Magazine article Management Services

Visit to the National Computing Museum, Bletchley Park

Article excerpt

On Saturday 1 April a party from the West Midlands Region visited the National Computing Museum at Bletchley Park, Milton Keynes.

One of the principal exhibits of the Museum is the reconstruction of a working Colossus computer, which is generally regarded as the World's first electronic programmable computer. The first Colossus computer was constructed during World War II in early 1943 by group of GPO telephone engineers led by Tommy Flowers from the Post Office Research Station, and used standard GPO telephone engineering components and 1500 radio valves. Anyone who can remember radio valves, will recall they glowed and flickered, produced a lot of heat and had high failure rate, but the GPO engineers were confident that the failure rate was high because the valves in radios were switched on and off, but in the Colossus the valves would remain turned on throughout the war.

Ten Colossus machines were built and the machines upgraded, each with 2400 valves to assist in breaking the German High Command Lorenz encoded messages. The German Lorenz machines were used to encode the messages of the highest levels of the German Command - strategy directives on the conduct of the war from Hitler to his principal commanders.

The Germans were confident that due to its complexity the Lorenz code was unbreakable, but Bletchley Park code breakers with the aid of Colossus were decoding Lorenz encrypted messages transmitted by radio from Berlin to the German command centres and passing the decoded information to Churchill and Eisenhower and other Allied commanders within six days. …

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