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Anecdotes: Memories of Alan Turing

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000129772D
Original Publication Date: 1993-Apr-30
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Oct-07
Document File: 2 page(s) / 16K

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

Robin W. Addie: AUTHOR [+2]

Abstract

Maurice Wilkes' introduction: Robin Addle and I were students together at Cambridge University in the years before World War 11. We were both active in the Cambridge University Wireless Society, and we were both keen radio hams. Our later careers took different directions. Robin held a Royal Signals commission in the Territorial Army Volunteer Reserve, and was mobilized soon after the outbreak of the war on September 3, 1939. He found himself, at the age of 23, in command of the Wireless Section of the 52nd (Lowland) Divisional Signals in France. Later in the war, when attached to the ";Y"; service, he met Alan Turing. Robin and I lost sight of each other after he left Cambridge and did not resume contact until December 1987, when he wrote after reading about me in an IKE publication. One of my wartime activities was to be involved in the planning, design, and construction of a large radio receiving station at Hanslope Park, a few miles from Bletchley. It was known as a ";Y"; station and was intended for the interception of enemy radio signals. The project was aimed at setting a new standard for intercept stations. It was a green field exercise involving a new station building, and much of the equipment for it had to be specially designed and made. To this end, workshop and laboratory space was provided. The antenna system consisted of numbers of three-wire rhombics spaced radially around the main building, which housed banks of receivers fed from wideband amplifiers to whose inputs selected antennas could be connected. Dedicated land lines fed outgoing signals to Bletchley Park, which was only a few miles away, and to other places. The engineering section, with which I was associated, undertook all constructional and maintenance work in the technical field.

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THIS DOCUMENT IS AN APPROXIMATE REPRESENTATION OF THE ORIGINAL.

Copyright ©; 1992 by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Anecdotes: Memories of Alan Turing

Robin W. Addie (Life Member of the IEEE) Spring Hall Wappenham Towcaster Northamptonshire NN12 8ST England

Maurice Wilkes' introduction: Robin Addle and I were students together at Cambridge University in the years before World War 11. We were both active in the Cambridge University Wireless Society, and we were both keen radio hams. Our later careers took different directions. Robin held a Royal Signals commission in the Territorial Army Volunteer Reserve, and was mobilized soon after the outbreak of the war on September 3, 1939. He found himself, at the age of 23, in command of the Wireless Section of the 52nd (Lowland) Divisional Signals in France. Later in the war, when attached to the "Y" service, he met Alan Turing.

Robin and I lost sight of each other after he left Cambridge and did not resume contact until December 1987, when he wrote after reading about me in an IKE publication.

One of my wartime activities was to be involved in the planning, design, and construction of a large radio receiving station at Hanslope Park, a few miles from Bletchley. It was known as a "Y" station and was intended for the interception of enemy radio signals. The project was aimed at setting a new standard for intercept stations. It was a green field exercise involving a new station building, and much of the equipment for it had to be specially designed and made. To this end, workshop and laboratory space was provided. The antenna system consisted of numbers of three-wire rhombics spaced radially around the main building, which housed banks of receivers fed from wideband amplifiers to whose inputs selected antennas could be connected. Dedicated land lines fed outgoing signals to Bletchley Park, which was only a few miles away, and to other places. The engineering section, with which I was associated, undertook all constructional and maintenance work in the technical field.

It was in 1944, when the station was operational, that I was asked to provide facilities for Alan Turing so that he might pursue his ideas on speech encryption. Thus I came to know him well and appreciate his intellectual qualities, which clearly dwarfed those of us who were trying to help him. His aim was to develop active elements for his computer ideas, largely NOR/AND gates, and so on. I gave him room and assistants, and supplied him with chassis, components, power supplies, and the like.

My vivid memories are of a man of medium build with a round head of crew-cut hair bending over what we used to describe as an "electrified bird'...