Enigma Codebreaking Bombe Moves To New Home

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

New gallery next door to Bletchley Park showcases the machine that helped cracked Hitler’s Enigma machine

The replica Bombe machine that helped speed up the decoding of messages scrambled by the Nazi’s Enigma machine during World War 2 is to move.

The move however will be a very short out, as the Bombe machine will move from its current location at Bletchley Park, the famous codebreaking centre in Buckinghamshire, to next door at the UK’s National Museum of Computing (TNMOC).

The machine will be placed alongside other famous machines used by code-breakers at Bletchley Park, which includes the reconstruction of the Colossus – the forerunner of the modern computer and which accelerated the breaking of Lorenz-encrypted messages of German High Command.

Turing design

A crowd-funding campaign had raised £50,000 in four weeks to move the machine and create its new home.

The codebreaking Turing-Welchman Bombe machine was hugely important in the second world war, as it automated the deciphering of Enigma-encrypted messages during the Second World War.

As its name suggested it was designed initially by none other than Alan Turing, the man who led the team that managed to crack the ciphers of Hitler’s command and control signals, to reveal wartime troops and equipment movements.

The design of the Bombe Machine was later refined by Gordon Welchman, and its new home was opened on the 106th anniversary of Turing’s birth on Saturday 23 June.

The gallery was opened by two of the original Bombe operators, and a demonstration was given of how it was used to crack German codes.

“We now have working reconstructions of two of the most important machines of the Second World War under one roof thanks to the generosity of our Crowdfunder donors,” explained TNMOC deputy chair Tim Reynolds said.

“In their hey-day, these machines changed the world and today their significance is undiminished,” said Reynolds. “Visiting student groups and the general public can watch in awe and be inspired by these historic working machines that paved the way to our digital world.”

Important machines

Cracking the Enigma Code, and the later development of the Turing-Welchman Bombe, has been hailed as shortening the war by at least two years but government secrecy meant that the work was not officially recognised until the 1980s.

It should be noted that the Bombe that visitors will see is in fact a replica that was painstakingly constructed by a team recruited by retired engineer John Harper in the 1990s.

The team finally finished the replica in 2007.

Such was the secrecy at Bletchley Park, that after the war ended the British Government ordered that nearly all of the code breaking machines to be dismantled and the parts distributed and destroyed.

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