Bletchley Park

Today I visited Bletchley Park, a two-hour bus and train ride away from Oxford to the northeast. Bletchley Park is the home of the code breakers that have been credited with shortening World War II by at least two years. It’s also where Alan Turning, the father of computer science, made his mark.

It’s an interesting place to visit for several reasons. This was a key establishment during World War II, yet it’s pretty low key. The work that they did was pretty abstract and is hard to put into a museum. All the same they created some impressive tools. A rebuild of Alan Turing’s Bombe, an electromechanical device used to reverse engineer the German Enigma coding machine is there along with several original Enigma machines. I didn’t know it before, but the Enigma machine was actually a commercial device targeted at banks before WWII. The military took it and enhanced it for their purposes.

Enigma was the everyday German coding machine. The super-secret one was Lorentz, which was used by Hitler and his staff. This is what Colossus was invented for. I’ll get to that in a later post.

The grounds of Bletchley Park are beautiful, but the town itself was nothing to write home about. I didn’t hang around after the museum and came back to Oxford.

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