Today, we’d like to pay homage to a lesser-known contributor—Tommy Flowers. Bletchley Park’s breakthroughs were the product of theoretical mathematical brilliance combined with dazzling feats of engineering—none more so than Flowers’ creation of Colossus, the world’s first programmable, electronic computer.
By 1942 the hardest task facing Bletchley Park’s wartime codebreakers was deciphering messages encrypted by Lorenz, used by Germany for their most top-secret communications. Initially Lorenz messages were broken by hand, using ingenious but time-consuming techniques. To speed things up, it was decided to build a machine to automate parts of the decoding process. This part-mechanical, part-electronic device was called Heath Robinson, but although it helped, it was unreliable and still too slow.
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