BBC "Code-Breakers" boosts development of new Colossus Gallery

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This week’s BBC TV programme about the long-kept secret of how the British code-breaking of German Tunny communications helped shorten World War II and gave birth to the digital age is a shot in the arm for the development of the new Colossus Gallery at The National Museum of Computing (TNMOC) at Bletchley Park.

The programme, Code-Breakers: Bletchley Park’s Lost Heroes, revealed the role of Colossus, the world’s first modern computer, in speeding up the code-breaking of Lorenz-encrypted messages of the German High Command. Today a rebuild of Colossus is on display at TNMOC in Block H, the world’s first purpose-built computer centre. Early next year it will be presented in a refurbished Gallery next to the Tunny Gallery which opened in May this year.

The rebuild of Colossus was the brainchild of the late Tony Sale, who made vital contributions to the Code-Breakers programme before his unexpected death in August this year. In tackling the seemingly impossible task of rebuilding Colossus, Sale’s aim had been to pay tribute to the achievements of Bill Tutte the mathematician who unlocked the secrets of the Lorenz mechanism, Tommy Flowers the engineer who designed Colossus, and the other unsung heroes of Bletchley Park whose code-breaking made such a crucial contribution to winning the war. Their work had been kept secret for decades and Sale’s mission had been to tell their story.

Andy Clark, Chair of Trustees at TNMOC, said “Everyone at The National Museum of Computing is thrilled at this comprehensive and extremely moving BBC programme on Tunny code-breaking. We particularly appreciate the programme being dedicated to Tony Sale.

“Colossus is already a hugely popular attraction at TNMOC and we plan that the new Gallery which is due for completion early next year will be a fitting tribute to Bill Tutte, Tommy Flowers, the code-breakers at Bletchley Park and Tony Sale.

“Though secret for decades, this British pioneering application of computing marked the beginning of the digital age. The rebuilt Colossus and Tunny machines at TNMOC show how they worked together to decipher Tunny and provide an extraordinarily powerful way for The National Museum of Computing to begin its story of our digital heritage right up to the present day. We are so grateful that Tony and his team have left such an inspiring legacy.”

In the closing weeks of his life, Sale, a co-founder of TNMOC, and a team of TNMOC volunteers had begun planning the refurbishment of the Colossus gallery. That planning continues and work is due to begin in December 2011. Together with the Tunny gallery, opened in May 2011, the public will be able to see the complete story of Tunny from intercept to decrypt.

Donations in memory of Tony Sale to complete the new Colossus Gallery can be made at http://www.justgiving.com/Mr-Tony-Sale

The National Museum of Computing is a registered charity independent of the Bletchley Park Trust. TNMOC has received no lottery funding and pays substantial overheads.

Code-Breakers: Bletchley Park’s Lost Heroes will be repeated on BBC2 on Saturday 30 October 2011 at 8.40pm and is currently available on BBC iPlayer..

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