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The Making of Colossus

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000129310D
Original Publication Date: 1983-Jul-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Oct-05
Document File: 8 page(s) / 37K

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

ALLEN W. M. COOMBS: AUTHOR [+2]

Abstract

The article describes the techniques that evolved for the design and manufacture of the Colossus machines and their auxiliaries, invented for the purpose of code breaking during World War 11 and installed at Bletchley Park.

This text was extracted from a PDF file.
This is the abbreviated version, containing approximately 11% of the total text.

Page 1 of 8

THIS DOCUMENT IS AN APPROXIMATE REPRESENTATION OF THE ORIGINAL.

Copyright ©; 1983 by the American Federation of Information Processing Societies, Inc. Used with permission.

The Making of Colossus

ALLEN W. M. COOMBS

(Image Omitted: © 1983 by the American Federation of Information Processing Societies, Inc. Permission to copy without fee all or part of this material is granted provided that the copies are not made or distributed for direct commercial advantage, the AFIPS copyright notice and the title of the publication and its date appear, and notice is given that the copying is by permission of the American Federation of Information Processing Societies, Inc. To copy otherwise, or to republish, requires specific permission. Author's Address: Blyth Knoll, Yealmbury Hill, Yealmpton, Devon, PLO 2JX, England. © 1983 AFIPS 0164-1239/83/030253-259

The Making of Colossus

ALLEN W. M. COOMBS .00/00)

The article describes the techniques that evolved for the design and manufacture of the Colossus machines and their auxiliaries, invented for the purpose of code breaking during World War 11 and installed at Bletchley Park.

Categories and Subject Descriptors: K.2 [History of Computing] -- Colossus, hardware, people General Terms: Design Additional Key Words and Phrases: cryptology, Bletchley Park, "Heath Robinson "

1. Introduction

In the first of these three papers, T. H. Flowers has described how he was by a series of lucky chances brought into the field of code breaking, and how his prewar experience and his ideas on the subject of electronic switching were thereby enabled to burgeon in the making of what were in some sense the first electronic computers in the world. In the third paper, W. W. Chandler will expound the problems of installing and commissioning the machines at Bletchley Park, against the clock, employing construction units made straight from the drawing board, and with staff who had to learn their expertise as they went along. This second paper links the other two; I hope to show how the team set out to design and build large machines of a totally novel form in minimal time, inspired simply by the firm belief that this could be done, that it was the right thing to do, and that by guess or by God we were the people to do it.

A point is first to be made concerning historical sequence and timing. I was enrolled in the Colossus team in or about September 1943, having until then been engaged in frustrating the knavish tricks of His Majesty's enemies (as we say in our national anthem) in other and rather less interesting ways. At that time the first Robinson machine was waiting to be made to work prior to installation, and the first (and unofficial) Colossus, the Mark I, had been completely designed and was approaching manufacturing completion in the laboratory at Dollis Hill (see Flowers's paper). It was to be my duty (I now gather) to concentrate on the Robinsons exclusively; however, the very successful demonstration of the Mark I...