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50 Years After Breaking the Codes: Interviews with Two of the Bletchley Park Scientists

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000129843D
Original Publication Date: 1995-Apr-30
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Oct-07
Document File: 19 page(s) / 71K

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

JOHN A.N. LEE: AUTHOR [+3]

Abstract

The work of the scientists and WFINS at Bletchley Park (Great Britain) during World War II led not only to me breaking of the codes of the opposing military forces but also to the postwar development of computing systems. While there is little evidence of the direct evolution of general-purpose computers from the machines created at BP, the experiences of the participants led to two of the first three major computer projects in Great Britain. Two of me participants in the code-breaking activities and in the postwar computer development, I. Jack Good and Donald Michie, came together on the fiftieth anniversary of their earlier association to reminisce about those times, the people they met, and the achievements of the BP community. This article documents portions of those discussions.

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THIS DOCUMENT IS AN APPROXIMATE REPRESENTATION OF THE ORIGINAL.

Copyright ©; 1995 by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

50 Years After Breaking the Codes: Interviews with Two of the Bletchley Park Scientists

JOHN A.N. LEE

GOLDE HOLTZMAN

The work of the scientists and WFINS at Bletchley Park (Great Britain) during World War II led not only to me breaking of the codes of the opposing military forces but also to the postwar development of computing systems. While there is little evidence of the direct evolution of general-purpose computers from the machines created at BP, the experiences of the participants led to two of the first three major computer projects in Great Britain. Two of me participants in the code-breaking activities and in the postwar computer development, I. Jack Good and Donald Michie, came together on the fiftieth anniversary of their earlier association to reminisce about those times, the people they met, and the achievements of the BP community. This article documents portions of those discussions.

For the first time in many years, two of the principal participants in the breaking of the World War II German High Command "Enigma codes" at Bletchley Park, England, Drs. I.J. Good and Donald Michie, were together during the spring of 1991. This was coincidentally the fiftieth anniversary of their work together and with luminaries such as Alan Turing, Max Newman, Peter Hilton, Hugh Alexander, and many thousands of others. Since World War II both Good and Michie have been deeply involved in the developing worlds of com- putation, especially in statistical research and artificial intelli- gence.

As part of the ongoing work in the recording and analysis of the recent history of computing, we conducted a series of oral interviews relating to the work of these pioneers and produced three hours of televised interviews with David Kahn (Newsday, author of Codebreakers, Seizing the Enigma and other books on this period of cryptography), Karen Frenkel (ACM, author of Robots, with Isaac Asimov, and frequent interviewer of Turing Award winners), and Perci Diaconis (Harvard University, MacArthur Fellow, distinguished statistician and interviewer on behalf of the American Statistical Association).

The television programs recorded as part of this project have been archived at the Charles Babbage Institute (University of Minneapolis) and Virginia Tech Newman Library; they will be available for further editing by organizations and scholars. This article reports on the preliminary oral interviews that were conducted with Drs. Good and Michie.

Following World War II, Winston Churchill gave tremendous credit for his successful strategies to "my most secret sources," a major element of which was the work of the Government Code and Cypher School (GCCS) at Bletchley Park, England. The activities at Bletchley Park included two major lines of investigation -- the decryption...