Codes of the road as Turing Bombe moves

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Alan Turing relaxes in the hey-day of Bletchley

The Turing-Welchman Bombe – the godfather of modern computers which deciphered Germany’s Enigma messages in the Second World War – is about to go on the move.

A crowdfunding campaign has been launched to raise cash to build a new Bombe Gallery closer to the  Colossus gallery. Putting them together will give visitors an amazing insight into the wartime code-breaking efforts at Bletchley Park.

It will also reveal the real beginnings of our digital world.

The Turing Welchman Bombe Rebuild Trust (TWBRT), which owns the Bombe, approached The National Museum of Computing, which agreed to give the Bombe a home in Block H close to the spot where Colossus is being rebuilt.

John Harper, chair of TWBRT, said: “We are looking forward to continuing to demonstrate how the Bombes made their vital contribution to Bletchley Park’s wartime role. We are really pleased that the story of the Bombe will remain very much part of the story.”

Andrew Herbert, chair of The National Museum of Computing, said: “To house the reconstructed Bombe close to the Colossus Rebuild makes a lot of sense from many perspectives. As a pre-computing electro-mechanical device, the Bombe will help our visitors better understand the beginnings of computing and the general thought processes that led to the development of Colossus and subsequent computers.

“The story of the design of the Bombe by Alan Turing, the father of computer science, leads very appropriately into the eight decades of computing that we curate. Even the manufacture of the Bombes leads directly to British computing history — the originals were built by the British Tabulating Machine company in Letchworth, which later became part of ICT, then ICL and now Fujitsu.”

“Both the Bombe and Colossus need constant maintenance, so there will be a very real synergy of   skill-sets of the Bombe and Colossus teams.”

The TWBRT Bombe is a fully functional and accurate reconstruction of the wartime Bombe as designed by Alan Turing and refined by Gordon Welchman. It was used to discover the daily settings of the Enigma machines which were used to communicate operational messages across German military networks.

Colossus was used to find the wheel settings of the Lorenz cipher machine, used by Hitler and German High Command to communicate strategic messages.

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