The ten ‘Colussus’ code-breaking machines, thought to be the first modern digital computers, broke the code of many German communications through the second world war. To commemorate the work done by the codebreakers at Bletchley Park, Tony Sale has rebuilt one of the machines, which were broken down after the war for security reasons.
Now, with the rebuilt machine functioning, a competition is being run to decipher a German transmission similar to those seen during the war. The rebuilt Colussus will compete with a virtual version of the codebreaking program on a modern computer. Due to the single-minded nature of the Colussus, it’s closer than you may think. Sometimes a multi-purpose personal computer isn’t as good as a van sized monstrosity made up of 2000 valves.
2 thoughts on “WWII code-breaking computer goes head to head with modern pc”
The British do love their secrets. The Bletchley project was absolutely secret until fairly recently. Many of the people working there had to endure their neighbor’s suspicion – wondering “just what did you do during the war?” – because they were forbidden to tell anybody anything.
Breaking up Colossus is surely another example. In some ways, it made sense – you couldn’t just put it in a back closet somehwere. The plans certainly should have been kept. It’s amazing that one of the original designers – Tommy Flowers – is still around.
Point taken, Mike, but I don’t think the British can be accused of having a monopoly on secrecy … 😉
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