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.