Tag Archives: colossus

Early home of computing falling into disrepair

image from wikipedia

Bletchley Park is a location of huge significance in the history of both the UK and the IT industry worldwide. It was at Bletchley that British codebreakers[1], including early computer science genius Alan Turing, broke the ‘unbreakable’ Nazi Enigma code during WWII. As part of this work they designed and built Colossus, arguably the first programmable electronic computer.

The breaking of the Enigma code had a huge impact on the war. Many historians believe it shortened the war significantly and saved many lives (on the winning side, at least). But the codebreaker’s huge achievements were kept secret for many years after the war, receiving no public recognition. Turing himself committed suicide after shameful treatment at the hands of the British government.

Now, to compound the neglect, Bletchley has been left to fall into increasing state of disrepair due to a lack of funding. The site was only just saved from property developers in 1991. Things have now got sufficiently bad that 97 prominent IT experts and computer scientists have written a letter to the Times this month condemning the state of repair. The Bletchley Park Trust are doing the best they can, but receive no public funding.

We are just about surviving. Money—or lack of it—is our big problem here. I think we have two to three more years of survival, but we need this time to find a solution to this.” Simon Greenish, director Bletchley Park Trust

It would be a tragedy if such a historic site was not saved. So what can you do? If you are a UK citizen you can:

and anyone can:

I hope the government will wake up to the fact that we are losing a site of national and international historical importance. Lets hope they don’t leave it too late to act.

** Interesting trivia **

The ability to solve The Daily Telegraph crossword in under 12 minutes was used as a recruitment test for codebreakers. The newspaper was asked to organise a crossword competition, after which each of the successful participants was contacted and asked if they would be prepared to undertake “a particular type of work as a contribution to the war effort”. (from Wikipedia)

[1] Building on important earlier work by Polish codebreakers.