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United Kingdom Encryption

Restored Bletchly Park Opens 51

Graculus (3653645) writes with this excerpt from the BBC: Codebreakers credited with shortening World War Two worked in Bletchley Park, in structures built to last only a few years. Now, following a painstaking restoration, they have been brought back to life and Wednesday's official opening marks a remarkable turnaround from top secrecy to world wide attraction. With no photographs of the insides to work with, Bletchley Park looked to its most valuable resource — the veterans who worked there. A museum at the site has already been opened. The structures were once perilously close to being lost forever (until Google stepped in).
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Restored Bletchly Park Opens

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  • by TechyImmigrant ( 175943 ) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @12:49PM (#47263917) Homepage Journal

    The sheds are (or were) rotton old sheds. Interesting stuff may happened in them, but they're still sheds.

    The crown jewel of Bletchley is the national museum of computing, which is apparently treated like shit by the people who control the property and think the manor is the good bit. It isn't.

    • Mod parent up.

      See: National Museum of Computing vs Bletchley Park Trust [] and Bletchley Park board member quits [] and Mexican standoff []

    • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @03:49PM (#47265591) Homepage

      Right. I've been there, but back in 2002, before they got real money. The people giving tours are obsessed with the buildings. The sheds are, indeed, sheds - temporary buildings built during WWII. Even the manor house isn't architecturally significant. It's only a Grade II listed building, along with about 300,000 other Grade II listed buildings in the UK.

      Nobody seems to be interested in the room at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Princeton where von Neumann had the EDVAC [] built. It's a storeroom now. The EDVAC was a real general purpose computer, with the "von Neumann architecture" all later computers followed.

      "Colossus" and the bombes were special-purpose machines for crypto key testing, like the ASICs used for Bitcoin mining. They really belong to the separate history of digital special-purpose machines, such as SIGSALY (digital voice encryption), Reservisor (travel reservations), American Totalizators's racetrack hardware, Teleregister's stock exchange and inventory control hardware, and Western Union's message switching systems. All that stuff is obsolete and forgotten.

      • The EDVAC was a real general purpose computer, with the "von Neumann architecture" all later computers followed.

        The contract to build EDVAC was signed in Aprl 1946, it was delivered in August 1949 and started work in 1951,

        Meanwhile, Baby was running in June 1948, EDSAC was running in May 1949 and Pilot ACE was running in May 1950.

        So "all later computers followed"?

        • So "all later computers followed"?

          Technically, that's a true statement regardless of whether it was the first...

          • Only if Baby (ancestor of the Manchester Mark 1, which spawned Ferranti Mark 1, the world's first commercially available general-purpose computer), EDSAC (ancestor of the LEO, the first computer used for commercial operations) and Pilot ACE (ancestor of the Bendix G15, an early washing machine) had no impact on later computing developpment.

            EDVAC's major introduction to the world of computing was the destructive patent dispute.

            • Yeah, my bad for skimming your post. I assumed the quoted text was an independent statement, and didn't take it into its proper context.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I guess you guys will never learn to proofread your headlines.

  • In seventy years time people might well be restoring the Utah Data Center as a monument to the War on Terror.
    Although unpopular (/phony) wars do tend to get less monuments I guess.

    • I think it should be kept as a monument for the same reason nazi concentration camps were...maybe in the future we can learn to not do the same thing again.

    • by TWX ( 665546 )
      I doubt it. For monuments to war to be successful there has to be a clear villain for the population to unite against. Like the War on Drugs, the War on Terror doesn't really have a clearly defined set of opponents, especially as the War seems to turn inward to affect us even more than it turns outward.
  • To intercept the German (and Japanese) communications, our spies listened to everything they could — and recorded whatever they deemed useful.

    Today's snowdens would've been outraged...

    • by NoNonAlphaCharsHere ( 2201864 ) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @01:54PM (#47264517)
      Right, because there's absolutely no difference between spying on your enemies in a declared war and spying on your own citizens in peacetime.
      • Plus no difference at all between listening to everything you could in the 40s (comparatively not much) and recording what's useful, vs recording everything.

        • by mi ( 197448 )

          listening to everything you could in the 40s (comparatively not much) and recording what's useful, vs recording everything

          The only limits on recording — back then and now — is due to the capacity. Had they been able to record everything back then, they would have.

          No, I'm not saying, today's recordings are justified. Just putting things into perspective...

      • by mi ( 197448 )

        They spied on everybody's radio-transmissions back then. Everybody's — and caught enemy's spies thanks to that.

        The "declared war vs. peacetime" distinction you are trying to make is without difference. We are at war with Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations — that Congress has not declared it is of no consequence.

  • by Minwee ( 522556 ) <> on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @02:28PM (#47264895) Homepage

    Bletchley Park looked to its most valuable resource — the veterans who worked there

    ...and fired them for daring to show historic computers to visitors []. And then kicking out the amateur radio society [] to replace them with a gift shop, and finally putting up a chain link fence to make sure nobody accidentally visits the real museum in building H [].

    The only reason the current Bletchley park management haven't levelled the place to put up a Starbucks is that the donors might notice and cut off their multi-million pound gravy train.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I visited BP a few years ago for the first time. I was under a bit of time pressure as I had to take a plane from Heathrow, so only had about an hour to do it all. I wanted to see the Colossus and made my way straight from the entrance office to the back where this is housed. I went through a door and interrupted a guy who was talking to a video camera to make a video presentation. He was REALLY upset at being distracted and let of a fair bit of steam, before he banished me alone to the room where the collo

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