Replica code-breaking machine on display at Bletchley Park

Discussion in 'Top Secret' started by Andy in West Oz, Jul 20, 2007.

  1. Andy in West Oz

    Andy in West Oz Senior Member

    World War 2 code cracking machine unveiled at Bletchley Park :: :: e-Government & public sector IT news + job vacancies:

    A replica Bombe machine based on those that cracked 'unbreakable' Nazi Enigma codes during the Second World War will be unveiled to the public for the first time this week. The Bombe will form the centrepiece of a newly-opened dedicated display at Bletchley Park, Milton Keynes - the historic site for British World War 2 code breaking activities.

    It will be unveiled by HRH Duke of Kent, Patron of the British Computer Society (BCS) to mark 50 years of the organisation, which represents over 60, 000 IT and communication professionals across the UK.

    For the first time in 60 years the public will be able to imagine what it was like to work on the noisy code-cracking machines at Bletchley Park, thanks to 12 years of dedicated work by a team of enthusiasts to rebuild the British Turing Bombe. It's completion by the BCS-funded Computer Conservation Society coincides with the 50th anniversary of the BCS, the leading membership organisation for IT professionals.

    To commemorate the efforts of the machines' WRN operatives during the war and their contribution to the early history of computing, the BCS has also recorded a number of surviving women veterans' stories for a specially-created website resource for school history lessons. These oral histories describe the relentless timetable set up at Bletchley and various outstations around the country to help Bletchley Park's cryptographers decode over 3000 enemy messages a day. They also give a vivid insight into life during the war for the women, many of whom were not aware of the nature of the work until they arrived at the Park.

    The Bombe was the brainchild of Alan Turing and Gordon Welchman, combined with the engineering skills of the British Tabulating Machine Company in Hertfordshire. Without the information it provided, the Battle of Britain and the Battle of the North Atlantic could have been lost, making a British surrender a distinct possibility. At the very least, it is said the total work at Bletchley Park helped shorten the war by up to two years, thereby sparing this country from an even deadlier form of aerial bombardment! Turing's work also paved the way for the computer technology we are all so familiar with today.

    The German military used the Enigma machine for putting messages into a code they considered unbreakable. Although British and Polish code breakers had developed methods for breaking this code it was a laborious process. This was due to the many millions of possible computations for the Enigma machine rotor settings. As these were changed daily speed was vital in getting decoded information to Field Commanders in good time. Mathematical genius Alan Turing devised an electro-mechanical device that cut the time down from weeks to hours.

    Numerous Turing Bombes were based at Bletchley Park and its outstations operated mainly by the Women's Royal Naval Service (WRNS). In all, around 200 Bombe machines were created. After the war, Winston Churchill ordered they all be dismantled to prevent them falling into the wrong hands.

    Rebuild statistics ,/b>
    > Around 4, 000 original 1943 drawings were studied in order to rebuild the machine, plus technical drawing papers.
    150 additional drawings were created by volunteers to enable the machine to be completed-resulting in 8, 500 different components being created.
    > 12 teams worked on different aspects of the project, from those who painstakingly copied drawings, to the team which threaded wire through hundreds of holes.
    > The 650Kg machine contains, among others:
    - 12, 000 studs
    - 18, 000 drum brushes
    - 50, 000 cable terminations
    - 12 miles of wire
    - 17, 000 screws, which hold the machine together
    > An entire database was created to identify the thousands of materials and parts needed for the machine

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