back to article Bletchley Park archives to be digitised, put online

Lost secrets of World War II are expected to be unearthed soon by a project aimed at digitising large amounts of hardcopy data held in files at 1940s codebreaking centre Bletchley Park. The BBC reports on the archive-scanning plans now underway, which are expected to take around three years to complete. "We've been wanting to …

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I went to Bletchley Park with a couple of friends this year. It was a really great day out and I advise anyone with an interest in IT to have a look. It's not expensive for entry and you can go back any time for a year after.

It's obvious that they need really cash though. So much of the site is in need of a major refurbishment.

Go icon because you should go and give them some money :)

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Very much agree

Been there twice last year (paid each time cos they need the money more than I do). Will go again this year. Prolly make another donation too.

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Definitely

I was there for the second time a few weeks ago. Definitely worth it. If you want to see the national museum of computing (basic, but growing) check the opening times first. It isn't open all the time that BP is.

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Never mind Alan

The person who should be getting the attention is Tommy Flowers.

ttfn

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Seconded

Agree

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Absolutely

It really a bit of a travesty that he isn't nearly so well known. There can be little doubt that without him the Collussi would never have existed. A true unsung hero.

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Computer

I did hear a story a while back that one woman had "cracked" the enigma code before the computers at Bletchley Park did. However the establishment didn't believe her or persue the matter because it didn't believe that cracking the code could be so simple that one woman could do it.

Can't find anything on this... anybody know if it's true or not?

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FAIL

Yeah

Her name was Josaninett Merkina.

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Headmaster

Pedantry alert

Strictly speaking Enigma wasn't a code but an electro-mechanical encipherment system, and since BP had several replica Enigma machines, the cracking involved trying to get the day's key settings which should have been extraordinarily difficult by a brute force attack. But the process was assisted by the Germans sending routine formated messages like weather repotrts at the same time each day, and by laziness on the part of the radio operators who often didn't input the additional security steps they were supposed to do. All the "tips" - that is the methods of finding the day's settings- came from highly intelligent humans. That was the difficult bit. The bombes, and not colossus, were used to reverse engineer the actual rotor settings once a guess had been made at the likely plaintext. Colossus was used on the much more sophisticated Fish encipherment system, which used a different version of the Enigma machine with an additional rotor.

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Another fish cracker

was the Swede Arne Buerling. He clearly did it with little more than pencil and paper. reference Colossus ed Jack Copeland

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@Nick Ryan

Sounds like an urban legend. Nothing about cracking the Enigma was "simple" - you could reduce the possibilities by knowing more about the machine's construction and taking educated guesses at the key used, but otherwise it was a simple brute-force attack, and there's still no better way of doing it.

As far as the "Establishment" goes, granted that before and after WWII, the general treatment of women could well have let this happen. During WWII though, women got damn near equal treatment in Britain bcos there simply weren't enough men to do all the work and allow women to stay at home. You can be pretty sure that any woman who could demonstrate an Enigma-cracker would have been taken *very* seriously.

Before and after the war, of course, the situation was rather different. Which is why Turing was driven to suicide (or murdered by the security services, depending on your interpretation) for being gay, in spite of having done more to win the war than any general.

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Spiffing news chaps

well get to learn a bit more about the back office boffins that saved blighty

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Was there a few weeks back.

Took the kids, my lovely wife, and the parents in law.

Within half an hour I'd ditched them, they were on the usual trip and I'd wandered off, totally amazed.

There was this massively entertaining guy there who demonstrated a real rebuild of colossus. I'm no ponce but the memories of the very clever and devoted men and women whose contribution to the world is almost incomparable almost had me crying. His recounting of the breaking of Lorenz had everyone laughing.

A real colussus. This was ____1944______ it was originally made. 1944! Made of Mechano, an old BT telephone exchange, palm fronds and snot.

They were asking for a quid from anyone who owns a computer to keep it going, and I was so impressed by this guy, called Tony, that I gave them all the cash I had.

The kids could do without food, fat b*stards, there are kids starving in Africa through no fault of our own. How many calories does a three year old need anyway? Obviously the wife wasn't quite so impressed when I told her we weren't eating again until we'd left, but she understood my Aspergers had kicked in and I was operating on autopilot.

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+1

That would be Tony Sale, who is the principal individual behind the Colossus rebuild project. He is an incredibly knowledgable and entertaining fellow.

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Funds

Although I'm not quite old enough to have been around during the war, there's no doubt in my mind that the government should step in with funds to save this incredibly important institution for posterity. They saved the nation, for goodness' sake! How can that be forgotten?

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Give Credit to Poland

It is quite possible that with assistance from Poland that the tide of the war was turned. If you don't know why, then get off your duff and look it up. Machines similar to the Enigma were in use well before the war in banking.

I am still amazed at how the folks that were so widely recruited from all over posed as office staff for years and years and refused en masse any commendation at the end of the war. So many stories of the secret war are fascinating, and a great intro to security. I am a bit surprised this went under Bootnotes.

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Went round the computer exhibit when it was closed...

... or supposed to be. Went on a day off from work with my husband, he wanted to see the old computers as well as the main exhibits. Apparently he didn't notice the sign on the door, and we obviously looked sufficiently geeky enough none of the workers bothered us until we were going out of the door.

Oops!

Certainly some interesting stuff there tho :)

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