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Early Work on Computers at Bletchley

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000129320D
Original Publication Date: 1979-Jul-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Oct-05
Document File: 11 page(s) / 48K

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

I. J. GOOD: AUTHOR [+2]

Abstract

Pioneering on computers was carried out at Bletchley, England, during World War II, for the cryptanalysts of the messages enciphered on the German cryptographic machines, the Enigma and the Geheimfchreiber. The work is discussed and thumbnail sketches of some of the people involved are included The account is written in an autobiographical spins, but some references to other sources are given.

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THIS DOCUMENT IS AN APPROXIMATE REPRESENTATION OF THE ORIGINAL.

Copyright ©; 1979 by the American Federation of Information Processing Societies, Inc. Used with permission.

Early Work on Computers at Bletchley

I. J. GOOD

   (Image Omitted: British Crown 1976; reprinted by permission. Originally issued as National Physical Laboratory Report Com Sci 82, Teddington, Middlesex, England, September 1976, and sponsored by Computer Systems and Electronics Requirements Board; updated November 1978. Crown Copyright Reserved: No extract from this report may be reproduced without the prior written consent of the Director, National Physical Laboratory; the source must be acknowledged. Author's address: Department of Statistics, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA 24061.)

Pioneering on computers was carried out at Bletchley, England, during World War II, for the cryptanalysts of the messages enciphered on the German cryptographic machines, the Enigma and the Geheimfchreiber. The work is discussed and thumbnail sketches of some of the people involved are included The account is written in an autobiographical spins, but some references to other sources are given.

Key words and phrases: history of computers, cryptanalysis, Ultra, Enigma, Geheimschreiber, Colossus, Bombe, Turing, Bletchley, Government Code and Cypher School, chess players as cryptanalysts CR category: 1.2

Introduction

This paper is based on a lecture given in the Division of Computing Science of the British National Physical Laboratory (NPL), Teddington, Middlesex, England, in April 1976 and issued as an NPL report soon afterwards. The paper is related to the pioneering work on electronic computers at the Government Code and Cypher School ("Station X") at Bletchley, Buckinghamshire, during World War II. This organization was housed in a number of buildings on a sizeable estate known as Bletchley Park or B.P. It is permissible to talk about the work at Bletchley because, in October 1975, photographs of Colossus, one of the machines built during the war, were made available at the Public Record Office and at the Science Museum. Also three books have appeared related to the work done at Bletchley: Frederick W. Winterbotham, The Ultra Secret [1974]; Anthony Cave Brown, Bodyguard of Lies [1975]; and William Stevenson, A Man Called Intrepid [1976]. All three books are very interesting but they are concerned primarily with how the intelligence was used, and hardly with the methods by which it was obtained. The first two books mention another machine, the Bombe, which was also used at Bletchley and which I shall mention again. [For more recent information concerning books and conferences, and also for some corrections to the main text of this paper, see the Addendum.]

In this account I am handicapped in three ways. In the first place my own knowledge is incomplete. For example, when we cryptanalysts broke a message we would rarely read the message ourselves, a...