LEGO model pays homage to Colossus

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A LEGO model of Colossus has just gone on display at The National Museum of Computing. It may be a miniature and it does not break the German Lorenz ciphers the way the original did during World War II and the Rebuild at the Museum can do today, but it is already proving a popular attraction during the Summer Bytes Festival at the Museum.

Chris Monk, Learning Co-ordinator at TNMOC, said: "The Summer Bytes Festival has an underlying objective of encouraging visitors to be creative and not just consumers of all things digital. The LEGO model will entertain visitors and offers a perfect introduction to our special LEGO weekend on 17-18 August when there will be workshops to let people try out the new programmable LEGO Mindstorms EV3 technology."

The LEGO scale model of Colossus has been built by James Pegrum, a building surveyor and father of two young boys who also happen to be LEGO fans. James explained: "As a child I grew up with LEGO as one of many of my toys, but even when I became bored with the others, my love of LEGO remained. Four years ago, I discovered that many other adults have a similar fascination and I joined the Brickish Association, a national group for Adult Fans Of LEGO, to develop my skills. I enjoy making models based on British history and the inspiration to build a LEGO Colossus grew from that."

Phil Hayes, Colossus Rebuild Chief Engineer, joked: "The bedstead with the tape reader immediately caught my eye. I can see that the LEGO model has the advantage of being cheaper to build and cooler to run although I think it would struggle to perform the amazing feats of Tommy Flowers' original machine!"

James Pegrum's model measures just 13.5 inches by 7.5 inches by 4.5 inches compared to the Colossus dimensions of 7.5 feet high by 4 feet wide and 1 feet deep.

Colossus, the world's first electronic computer, was kept top secret until 1975 and only since the 1990s has its story been told in any detail. It was built to find the start wheel settings of the hugely complex Lorenz SZ42 cipher machine which encrypted messages in a way that Hitler believed could never be broken. Colossus attacked its first messages in February 1944 and it is widely believed to have had a crucial impact in shortening the war.

The working Colossus Rebuild, constructed by Tony Sale and his team between 1994 and 2007, is a huge attraction to visitors from across the world and is displayed in a newly refurbished gallery in Block H on the spot where Colossus number 9 stood during the war.

Full details, of the Summer Bytes programme can be found here.

Sponsors of the Summer Bytes Festival include:
IP Cortex
Tribune
Fujitsu
Bletchley Park Science and Innovation Centre
AwardBox.

Notes To Editors

About The National Museum of Computing

The National Museum of Computing, located at Bletchley Park, is an independent charity housing the largest collection of functional historic computers in Europe, including a rebuilt Colossus, the world’s first electronic computer and the WITCH, the world's oldest working digital computer. The Museum enables visitors to follow the development of computing from the ultra-secret pioneering efforts of the 1940s through the large systems and mainframes of the 1950s, 60s and 70s, and the rise of personal computing in the 1980s and beyond.

Funders of the Museum include Bletchley Park Capital Partners, CreateOnline, Ceravision, InsightSoftware.com, Google UK, PGP Corporation, IBM, NPL, HP Labs, BCS, the Drapers' Foundation, Black Marble, and the School of Computer Science at the University of Hertfordshire.

The Museum is currently open to the public on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays from 1pm, and on summer Bank Holidays. From 24 July until 1 September, the Museum will be open Wednesday to Sunday, 1-5pm. Guided tours are also available at 2.30pm on Tuesdays. There are often additional opening times for the public -- see the website or the iPhone app for updates. Educational and corporate groups are very welcome and may be on any day or evening by prior arrangement.

For more information, see www.tnmoc.org and follow @tnmoc on Twitter and The National Museum of Computing on Facebook and Google+. A TNMOC iPhone App is also now available from the iPhone App Store.

Media Contacts

Stephen Fleming
Palam Communications for TNMOC
t +44 (0) 1635 299116
e sfleming@palam.co.uk

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