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Video from Bletchley Park

Here are two short video sequences shot on Spring Bank Hol­i­day, 25 May 2009, at Bletch­ley Park, near Mil­ton Keynes.

Bletch­ley Park is an impor­tant aspect of Britain’s tech­no­log­i­cal and wartime her­itage, where unique machines, includ­ing the world’s first pro­gram­ma­ble com­put­er, Colos­sus, were built to read Ger­man cod­ed mes­sages. It’s been sug­gest­ed that the work at Bletch­ley Park short­ened the war by as much as two years.

The two videos are as follows:

The Tun­ny machine

David Stan­ley, a mem­ber of the team at Bletch­ley Park, describes how the ‘Tun­ny’ emu­la­tor machine was used to decrypt high-lev­el wartime Ger­man mes­sages pro­duced by the Lorenz SZ40 and SZ42 encryp­tion units, and a lit­tle about the recon­struc­tion of the machine at Bletch­ley Park.

The ‘Colos­sus’ was used to work out the start­ing posi­tions (equiv­a­lent to the ini­tial set­tings on the Lorenz machine) and then the ‘Tun­ny’ emu­la­tor (the name ‘Tun­ny’ actu­al­ly applied to the traf­fic), the machine demon­strat­ed here, actu­al­ly decrypt­ed the mes­sages and print­ed them out on a teleprinter.

‘Tun­ny’ emu­la­tor at Bletch­ley Park from Richard Elen on Vimeo.

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The Colos­sus Rebuild

Tony Sale led the team that recon­struct­ed a Colos­sus Mark 2 com­put­er, which was com­plet­ed in 2007 at Bletch­ley Park. Here he is seen describ­ing how Colos­sus was used and a lit­tle about the rebuild.

The orig­i­nal Colos­sus was the world’s first pro­gram­ma­ble dig­i­tal com­put­er. Colos­sus machines were used by the code­break­ers at Bletch­ley Park dur­ing WW II to help read encrypt­ed mes­sages and employed valves (vac­u­um tubes) to per­form the cal­cu­la­tions. The machines were designed by engi­neer Tom­my Flow­ers with Allen Coombs, Sid Broad­hurst and Bill Chandler.

The Colos­sus machines were used to help decrypt Ger­man mes­sages sent using the Lorenz S40/42 machines which, unlike Enig­ma, had 12 set­ting wheels. Colos­sus deter­mined the start­ing posi­tions for the wheels so that the Tun­ny machine (see above) could decrypt the mes­sage itself.

Colos­sus Rebuild at Bletch­ley Park from Richard Elen on Vimeo.

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Today, Bletch­ley Park and the Nation­al Muse­um of Com­put­ing that is co-sit­ed there, need your help to sur­vive. The estab­lish­ment receives no Gov­ern­ment fund­ing (why?) and relies entire­ly on dona­tions. Can you help? Vis­it Bletch­ley Park or its web site, and see the Nation­al Muse­um of Com­put­ing — for more details, click the links in this para­graph, and please help save Bletch­ley Park.

Please also vis­it Dr Sue Black­’s Sav­ing Bletch­ley Park Cam­paign site.

You can also watch video of the Bombe tak­en on the 26 July, 2009 Find­ing Ada group visit.


1 Jason Gorman { 07.10.09 at 01:31 }

Great videos 🙂

Could I also men­tion Bof­foon­ery! Com­e­dy Ben­e­fit for Bletch­ley Park, which will be at the Blooms­bury The­atre on Nov 3rd?


2 Missus Wookie { 05.02.11 at 12:06 }

Thank you for these — much bet­ter than my still pho­tos. I’ve linked from my blog­post describ­ing our vis­it to Bletch­ley Park to yours to enable peo­ple to see your videos. Hope you don’t mind!

3 Les Mead { 07.18.11 at 18:02 }

I pro­duced a video of the XL Asso­ci­a­tion vis­it to Bletch­ley Park on 26.06.11

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