The Heath Robinson was one of the early attempts to industrialise code-breaking during World War II.
Robinson predated Colossus -- in fact the Colossus computers came about because of the problems that the Robinson machines uncovered. Both devices partly mechanised the decryption of Lorenz messages. Robinson was partly successful, Colossus was a massive improvement.
The Tunny team is rebuilding Robinson. You can see it in the Tunny Room (next door to Colossus).
The working machine will be launched on 6 April 2019.
How to be at the launch
The rebuild of Robinson is ongoing and latest progress can be seen in the photo (left). We will be reporting developments here.
The machine was nick-named Heath Robinson by the Wrens who operated it during the war because it bore a strong resemblance to the wild and wacky designs by Heath Robinson. It was the most complex thing that anybody had seen up until then. But they hadn't seen the half of it yet!
Two paper tapes run in parallel and that was a real problem for the designers: keeping two paper tapes running together at 2000 characters per second for long periods of time. The two tapes differed in length by one character, so they could not be attached side-by-side. This is posing a problem for the Tunny Team, how on earth do we achieve synchronisation between the two tapes?