Bletchley Park, Chapter Two

I’ve written a bit about Alan Turing and Bletchley Park’s successful effort to decrypt WW2 German Navy messages that were encrypted by the Germans’ Enigma machine. This amazing feat at Bletchley Park allowed supply ships to escape the U-boats so England could survive the early years of WW2.

Lorenz encrypting teleprinter
Lorenz encrypting teleprinter

In 1942, the Germans introduced their Lorenz encrypting teleprinter machine which the Brits dubbed Tunny. Enigmas contained 3 to 5 encrypting wheels; Lorenz contained 11 wheels. All German high command messages were encrypted by the Lorenz machine.

The BBC recently produced an excellent video documentary about the cracking of the Lorenz code at Bletchley Park. Bill Tutte did the math and Tommy Flowers designed and built the Tunny decryption machine. They named their decryption machine Colossus, for a reason: it was big.

Bletchley Park used electromechanical “Bombes” to decrypt Enigma messages. Tommy Flowers’ Colossus was truly electronic: it contained 2500 vacuum tubes (“valves” in Britspeak) as well as telephone-type relays. It’s sometimes called the first electronic computer. It reduced message decryption time from 6 weeks to 6 hours. Excellent IEEE video with close-ups of Colossus.

You can watch the constructing Colossus video on Youtube. I’ve never visited Bletchley Park: I’ll do so next time I travel to the UK.

Visit my website: http://russbellew.com
© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

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