(One of a series of weekday posts on the life of Winston S. Churchill.)
During WW II certain locked boxes arrived for Churchill on almost a daily basis wherever he was. He alone had the keys to those boxes. His closest aides did not know their contents. In his multi-volume History of WW II, Churchill makes no mention of the boxes.
The boxes, of course, contained principally the latest British decodings of German Enigma messages. They sometimes also contained intercepts and decodings of Italian and Japanese messages.
When he wrote his history, Churchill could not reveal the Enigma secret: that early in the war the British had begun to break the German code system which used encoding and decoding machines the Brits dubbed the Enigma machines. That remained a secret until 1974.
At Pico Technology’s website we learn more:
Situated about 50 miles to the north west of London at Bletchley Park is the former WW2 code breaking centre (also known as Station X). It was here that a dedicated team of talented mathematicians (including Alan Turing) worked to break the German Enigma codes and also the more complex codes used by Hitler and his high command.There’s much more at the Pico site which should be extremely interesting to anyone interested in the early development of computers.
The number of people working at Bletchley Park grew throughout the war to a point where there were literally thousands of people working around the clock decoding and analysing messages. Despite the number of people involved, the German high command had no idea that their security had been compromised and believed that their codes were unbreakable. . . .
During the war, many ingenious aids and machines were developed at Bletchley Park to aid the breaking of codes, one of these was Colossus — the World’s first electronic computer.
(For many years the honour of being the World’s first electronic computer was given to the American ENIAC. In recent years however, both the UK and US governments have declassified and released papers giving more information about Colossus. In the light of this historians have been forced to reconsider and most now agree that Colossus was in fact the World’s first electronic computer.) . . .
I’d be interested to hear what you think of the part of the Pico dealing with Bletchley, especially from those of you with tech backgrounds.
Have a nice weekend, folks.