12 September 2006

Bloody Brilliant

The Bletchley Park Trust, which maintains the site of the legendary British Second World War codebreaking facility, has built a working Turing Bombe:
The last time that the rattle of the Turing Bombe was heard, it was the greatest secret of the British Empire.

Yesterday, it was a press event.

With a rumble that turned into a roar, a sound not heard at Bletchley Park for more than half a century, the machine that was at the heart of Britain's wartime code-breaking triumph began to work again.

. . . .

The bombe was the key to cracking the German code known as Enigma, which Hitler's regime believed unbreakable, and in doing so it helped to win the Battle of Britain in 1940 and the Battle of the Atlantic in 1942-43.

Developed by the mathematicians Alan Turing and Gordon Welchman, the first bombe was built by the British Tabulating Machine Company in Letchworth, [Hertfordshire].

. . . .

The rebuilding project involved making almost everything involved from scratch and the engineers estimated that they had used 10 miles of wire alone in constructing the complex machinery.

More than 200 Bombes were created, but all were destroyed after the war to preserve the project's secrecy. Blueprints survived at Bletchley's successor intelligence agencies and painstaking work from those plans produced this amazing device.

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