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
From Thinkgeek, the $150 Fallout 76 Pip-Boy 2000 Construction Kit, a full-sized, wearable replica of the Pip-Boy 2000 Mark VI, in a vegan leather case, with a "completely in-world instruction manual." (via Wonderlandblog)
I’m tempted by the finally-upgraded Mac Mini (pictured above with the new 13″ iPad Pro configured as its display), long the black sheep of the Mac lineup but loved for the promise of compact power it (again) justifies. Rather than make the new model smaller, as some expected, they kept the same box and filled […]
An Australian developer named Mark Watkins painstakingly reverse-engineered the proprietary data generated by Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machines and created Sleepyhead, a free/open piece of software that has become the go-to tool for thousands of sleep apnea sufferers around the world who want to tune their machines to stay healthy.
At some point, it happens to everyone: Your car breaks down. Your electricity fails at home. And if it happens at night, the first tool you need is your vision. There’s a more reliable way to get it back than that nearly-dead penlight at the back of your junk drawer or glove compartment: The UltraBright […]
The key to learning any new language is feedback. When you’re immersed in conversation, it’s easy to pick up key phrases and pronunciation, but not all of us have the means to jet off to Spain, France or wherever we can learn to speak like a local. The next best thing: The Mondly app. Mondly […]
Got a gadget-minded geek on your holiday list this year? Don’t wait for Black Friday. The prices are already dropping on some quality tech toys, and we’ve got a roundup of some of our favorites. Force Flyers DIY Building Block Drone MSRP: $49.99 | Normally: $42.99 | Price Drop: $39.99 (20% Off) Compatible with everybody’s […]