Robinson valve amplifier testing

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The valves in Robinson serve two main purposes:

  • they amplify the tiny electrical signals from the photo-electric cells that read the two paper tapes in the same way that valves have been used to amplify the tiny signal from the pickup on the old vinyl record players to a level that could drive a loudspeaker

  • they perform a mathematical-type function on the amplified data from the two paper tapes to try to tease out some vital information about the suspected key. (Tommy Flowers realised that valves could perform logical operations thousands of times faster than relays and mechanical switches and this eventually led to Colossus.)

Here is Charles Coultas of the Robinson Rebuild team testing the valve amplifier:

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