Honorary doctorate for TNMOC trustee

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Tony Sale honoured by The Open University for his work on Colossus

Tony Sale, a director and trustee of The National Museum of Computing at Bletchley Park, has been awarded an honorary doctorate by The Open University for his work on the rebuilding of Colossus, the wartime code-breaking computer.

Tony’s enthusiasm, foresight and stamina together with his engineering and detection skills were highlighted in the citation at The Open University graduation ceremony in Milton Keynes Theatre last week:

“Tony Sale is a gifted and creative engineer, but more than this we honour his great engineering achievements, his leadership and energy. Bletchley Park was a piece of history that nearly disappeared. The efforts of Tony Sale were key to the hard-won battle to keep it alive.”

In receiving his doctorate Tony Sale paid tribute to the Colossus rebuild team and to the original codebreakers:

“This honour is also a recognition of the voluntary work done by over 20 colleagues and friends in helping me over the past 15 years in the rebuild of the World War II Colossus Mk 2 computer in Bletchley Park. The breaking of the German Lorenz SZ42 cipher by Colossus and by the human teams in Bletchley Park in World War II was a fantastic achievement which still challenges modern software practitioners and which provides a salutary lesson in security for aspiring security experts.”

Colossus, the world’s first electronic programmable computer, was used to decode German High Command signals from the Lorenz encryption machine during World War II. The success of Colossus is believed to have shortened the war by many months and saved tens of thousands of lives. Until the 1970s, the activities of Colossus were kept secret, but then reports of its existence and role began to be released into the public domain.

By 1994, the twelve Colossi had been dismantled and only fragments of information existed about them. With a few photographs and diagrams and the memories of a few people, Tony Sale led a team of more than 20 people to rebuild a Colossus Mark II. By 2004 a working Colossus was put on public display and today it is a key exhibit at The National Museum of Computing at Bletchley Park, where it stands on its original site and commemorates the remarkable achievements of war-time codebreakers.

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