Tony Sale and a group of British vintage computer enthusiasts is rebuilding Colossus, the gigantic proto-computer that Alan Turing and the Bletchley Park scientists built to crack German codes during WWII. The original Colossus machines were all broken up (into pieces "no bigger than a man's hand"!) after the war for security reasons, but Sale has tracked down the surviving Colossus engineers and is making great strides in completing the machine.
The finished Colossus is to be pitted against a contemporary general-purpose PC in a code-breaking race. The raw fodder for the race is a set of messages encrypted using Nazi ciphers and transmitted by amateur radio enthusiasts in Germany.
It's all in support of a new National Museum of Computing, based at Bletchley. What a cool idea -- I'm now officially planning a day-trip to Bletchley to see the museum.
He had no working machines to look at because, on Churchill's orders, the Colossus machines were dismantled once the war was over. Many parts, mostly the 1500 valves, went back to telephone exchanges and the rest were broken into pieces "no bigger than a man's hand".
Mr Sale has tracked down the few living engineers who worked on the project and plumbed their expertise to guide the rebuilding effort...
The German participants in the code-cracking challenge will transmit three enciphered messages - one hard, one very hard and one ultra hard.
The BBC's Rory Cellan-Jones said there was a "busy and business-like" atmosphere at Bletchley as the code cracking attempts got underway.
"We've seen webcam video of the Germans preparing to send the first signals," he said.
Link to BBC Colossus reborn story, Link to BBC crypto race story
Logitech’s MX Keys [Amazon] is what it finally took to lure me away from mechanical keyboards. It’s a slim yet solidly-constructed full-size model that’s similar to and superior to Apple’s Magic Keyboard. It’s flat, minimalist, heavy, solid and low-profile, with large backlit keys typeset in something similar to Futura Light. The keys are square with […]
Microsoft is to shut shop on the high streets and malls of America, permanently closing its 116 retail stores. Only 10 were overseas; flagship stores in New York City, London, Sydney, and Redmond will be remain as showrooms that do not sell the products. There will be no layoffs, Microsoft reports. Alarm bells rang when […]
Traintrackr is a powered circuit board showing a map of the London Underground, lighting up in real time to show train positions on 333 stations on all 12 main lines. It connects to the tube’s API for live location data every second. The board is 400mm x 300mm and sells for £249. (There’s also the […]
With all due respect to our vegetarian friends, there might be nothing more intrinsically linked to the 4th of July holiday than a big ole cookout. Sure, fireworks and celebrating the birth of a constitutional republic are great too, but showing off your cooking prowess with a brilliantly seared, mouth-watering slab of grade-A American beef […]
We’re at the midway point of 2020. So…how’s the year going for you so far? Yeah…we can guess. But while there’s a lot about 2020 we can’t directly control, maybe a little retail therapy can help make you feel better. Sure, the 39 items we gathered together can absolutely bring a smile to your face. […]
When revved-up kids used to dribble a basketball through the kitchen or practice their footwork with a soccer ball in front of the television, exasperated parents would often just send ‘em outside to play. But these days, sending kids out might not be the best course of action. Despite all the changes, many budding young […]