At last - the secrets of Bletchley Park's powerful codebreaking computers. This is a history of Colossus, the world's first fully-functioning electronic digital computer. Colossus was used during the Second World War at the Government Code and Cypher School at Bletchley Park, where it played an invaluable role cracking enemy codes. Until very recently, much about the Colossus machine was shrouded in secrecy, largely because the codes that were employed remained in use by the British security services until a short time ago. This book only became possible due to the declassification in the US of wartime documents. With an introductory essay on cryptography and the history of code-breaking by Simon Singh, this book reveals the workings of Colossus and the extraordinary staff at Bletchley Park through personal accounts by those who lived and worked with the computer. Among them is the testimony of Thomas Flowers, who was the architect of Colossus and whose personal account, written shortly before he died, is published here for the first time.
Other essays consider the historical importance of this remarkable machine, and its impact on the generations of computing technology that followed.
Jack Copeland is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand and Director of the Turing Archive for the History of Computing, and has been studying the history of Bletchley Park since 1992.
He is a contributor to Scientific American and his previous publications include Artificial Intelligence, (Blackwell, 1993), Logic and Reality (OUP, 1996), Turing's Machines (OUP, forthcoming), The Essential Turing (OUP, 2004), and Alan Turing's Automatic Computing Engine (OUP, 2005).