1995-01-02 - Re: Book review: Codebreakers, the Inside Story of Bletchley Park

Header Data

From: Matt Blaze <mab@crypto.com>
To: gnu@toad.com
Message Hash: 45104bdab80a70340c51c7934fd770b543556a0e7ba65d1b623fc8f46e36c9e2
Message ID: <199501020423.XAA26847@crypto.com>
Reply To: <9501020255.AA13843@toad.com>
UTC Datetime: 1995-01-02 04:21:50 UTC
Raw Date: Sun, 1 Jan 95 20:21:50 PST

Raw message

From: Matt Blaze <mab@crypto.com>
Date: Sun, 1 Jan 95 20:21:50 PST
To: gnu@toad.com
Subject: Re: Book review: Codebreakers, the Inside Story of Bletchley Park
In-Reply-To: <9501020255.AA13843@toad.com>
Message-ID: <199501020423.XAA26847@crypto.com>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain

Let me wholeheartedly echo John's recommendation; this is a terrific
book, one from which I learned a great deal.  You'll get more out
of it, however, the more you already know about the Bletchley Park
efforts and the principles on which the Enigma and Lorenz machines
operated.  In particular, Welchman's "The Hut Six Story" (McGraw
Hill, 1982) makes good preparatory reading.  Unfortunately, that
book has been out of print for some time, but is fairly widely
available at used book shops.

I had the opportunity to visit Bletchley Park a couple of weeks
ago.  Most of the original huts are still standing, albiet in
various states of disrepair.  Walking around the site, knowing
something of what went on there in complete secrecy 50 years ago,
I could only imagine the sense of urgency and bustle that must have
been in the air with 12000 people working (day and night, over
three shifts) in a relatively small space.  The more I learn about
the effort the more impressed I am with the accomplishments that
took place there.  In particular, the path from basic research to
operational functionality was far shorter than one would think

After the war, the site was used by GCHQ and by British Telecom as
a training center.  It was recently saved from redevlopment and is
now being converted into museum.  Among the projects taking place
there is a construction of a working model of the original "Colossus"
machine, arguably the first electronic computer ever built (it was
used in breaking the Lorenz teleprinter cipher).  I believe the site
is currently open for visitors on alternate weekends.