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Enigma-Cracking Bombe Recreated 131

toxcspdrmn writes "Volunteers at Bletchley Park have recreated a working replica of the electromechanical bombe used to crack the Germans' Enigma encryption. The bombe was designed by Polish cryptologists and refined by Alan Turing and colleagues at Bletchley Park. The replica joins a recreated electronic Colossus — generally considered the first electronic computer. Impressive work when you consider that Winston Churchill ordered the originals to be completely destroyed at the end of WWII."
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Enigma-Cracking Bombe Recreated

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  • by ettlz ( 639203 ) on Thursday September 07, 2006 @01:13PM (#16060429) Journal
    Does it run NetBSD?
    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      No, its not even turing complete!
  • by alexwcovington ( 855979 ) on Thursday September 07, 2006 @01:14PM (#16060438) Journal
    It's truly a testiment to the brilliance of these people, that they were able to do so much with so little in the way of computing power. It's a shame that Alan Turing met such an unfortunate fate, with all he did for modern computing.
    • by joe 155 ( 937621 ) on Thursday September 07, 2006 @01:33PM (#16060616) Journal
      I too share your admiration of the fantastic work which was done there.

      One of the worst things Churchil did was not allowing the continuation of this project and continual research in the field. As an English man and a Conservative I feel thats been one of our worst own goals... Silicon Vally could have been in Kent (or, even better, Grimsby!). But then again we did something similar to Babage and his difference engine.

      Still, it's nice to see what some of the greatest people in the world at the time did in their field, even if it does bring up old regrets...
      • Not your fault (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Beryllium Sphere(tm) ( 193358 ) on Thursday September 07, 2006 @03:05PM (#16061292) Homepage Journal
        >But then again we did something similar to Babage and his difference engine.

        Babbage got suprisingly generous funding, but unfortunately he was ahead of his time in another way -- he practiced feature creep. He kept redesigning while the machine was being built, which is part of the reason he needed such generous funding.
      • by 2sheds ( 78194 ) on Thursday September 07, 2006 @06:30PM (#16062713) Journal
        > One of the worst things Churchil did was not allowing the continuation of this project

        Well, he did allow continuation, it's just that it was under ultratight security in a department that would become today's GCHQ (Government Communications HQ - our equivalent of the NSA). The reason for that security is obvious; he wanted Britain to keep the competitive advantage of being able to spy on friends and allies without anyone being aware of that ability. Go and read up on the history of British SIGINT during the post war years if you're interested. There's a fair bit on Wikipedia about GCHQ and it's precedessor, the Government Code and Cipher School (Bletchley Park to you and me).
        • by Sarisar ( 842030 )
          Well hell the encryption erm... DHA.. erm.. shit I'm drunk and the memory is going.. but the three letter acronym from the three surnames of the guys who invented it in the US that handled the first encryption on the net. That was done by GCHQ a few years before but hushed up as it was top secret.

          There was also the thing about the russians reusing one time pads that we (the UK) cracked during the cold war. The UK was always in the forefront of cracking stuff. Unfortunately nowadays we seem useless... /me
          • by 2sheds ( 78194 )
            You're probably thinking of RSA, but what you actually mean is Diffie-Hellman [wikipedia.org], which is similar but a little earlier. It's the kind of thing that happens when you work for the security services; just think what fundamental mathematical discoveries are right now hushed up in the name of national security. Clue: the American NSA claims to be the largest employer of mathematicians in the world (according to its own web site [nsa.gov]).

            As for 'unfortunately nowadays we seem useless' - I'm never one to credit the state wi
        • by femto ( 459605 )

          It's a lesson in the cathedral and bazaar [catb.org].

          GCHQ = cathedral

          Silicon Valley = bazaar

          Which one do you think won?

          • by 2sheds ( 78194 )
            It really isn't, you know. GCHQ is developing an intelligence asset; Silicon Valley is developing something it can sell. The two are hardly competing ideologies.
      • And ibm sold some cool hollarinth machines etc.. to the Germans to gather all the statistics/census data to find all the jews and 5% jews/gays and steal
        their wealth.
    • by JohnGrahamCumming ( 684871 ) * <slashdotNO@SPAMjgc.org> on Thursday September 07, 2006 @01:42PM (#16060686) Homepage Journal
      Turing's death is a warning about the dangers of discriminating against people because they are different.

      For all values of 'different'.

      • by gosand ( 234100 ) on Thursday September 07, 2006 @03:36PM (#16061537)
        Turing's death is a warning about the dangers of discriminating against people because they are different. For all values of 'different'.

        I am currently reading "Alan Turing: The Enigma" (http://www.turing.org.uk/turing/), and while I am not much for biographies, it is pretty good so far. It is quite long and detailed, but I am anxious to get through it. The foreword is by one of my favorite authors, Douglas Hofstadter. Can't wait to get his new book in 2007.

        If you are a geek, read Godel Escher Bach, and The Mind's I. And if you really want to tackle something, try Metamagical Themas. It's like a good hot sauce - tasty, yet painful, leaving you wanting more. :)

        • And Le Ton beau de Marot
          • by gosand ( 234100 )
            And Le Ton beau de Marot

            I have that book at home, but haven't read it. It is actually my wife's.

            When we were dating, we went to a big bookstore. We parted ways, she went for the language section. She was getting her master's in French linguistics at the time. I wandered around to various sections.

            We met up about an hour later, each of us with several books. I was excited to have found Metamagical Themas, because I loved Hofstadter's other books I had read. She was excited about the one she found,

    • by Keebler71 ( 520908 ) on Thursday September 07, 2006 @02:01PM (#16060859) Journal
      Indeed... [turing.org.uk]

      Alan Turing's colleague Jack Good, however, said on the same television programme that if the security authorities had known about Alan Turing's homosexuality from the beginning, 'we might have lost the war.'

      • That is an awesome quote.
      • No matter if Germany had had adequate COMSEC, no matter if they'd invaded England, no matter if they'd made any of a zillion decisions better: the outcome of the war was sealed when anti-Semitism drove out the nuclear scientists. The war could have been longer and its end even more horrible but the Allies would have won.
      • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

        by hughk ( 248126 )
        Homosexuality in the UK wasn't really an issue in the forties. It seemed to become one in the fifties connected with communism and largely through pressure from the US. The justification given was that a homosexual could be blackmailed and in any case was considered morally disreputable.

        McCarthy had his big thing against communists in the fifties and hhhe also seemed to bring homosexuality into the deal. The reality was in Britain, Guy Burgess was definitely gay and a traitor ausing a lot of damage but th

    • by fantomas ( 94850 ) on Thursday September 07, 2006 @08:17PM (#16063273)
      A true shame is the way the Bletchley Park Museum is treated by the UK government and heritage authorities - they got turned down from national heritage funding and the whole place is operating on a shoe string. There are great volunteers (some of whom worked there in the war) who will take you on guided tours. It's really an amazing place to visit. Go there!

      But they need financial help to keep the place running. Parts of the place really need financial investment - the Huts where the code breaking happened are barely standing. They've had to sell off some of the land around the house to developers (who are building a housing estate) to pay for the upkeep. Some of the volunteers were going round interviewing people who'd worked there during the war, they were so short of money that once they'd transcribed the interviews, they'd tape over the recordings and use the same tape again in the next interview to save money on buying new audio tapes.

      If you think the work carried out at Bletchley Park during the war was valuable, or fascinating, contribute to keeping the place running as a museum. Visit the place! Buy some cool stuff from the shop! send them a donation! Please.
  • Imagine.. (Score:4, Funny)

    by Yetihehe ( 971185 ) on Thursday September 07, 2006 @01:14PM (#16060443)
    Imagine beowulf cluster of these. It would be colossus!
  • Marian Rejewski (Score:5, Informative)

    by Ignignot ( 782335 ) on Thursday September 07, 2006 @01:15PM (#16060450) Journal
    How on earth can you mention this device without saying Rejewski's name? He is the one that originally cracked the enigma code, and did all of the hard cryptanalysis long before those guys in the UK got anywhere. He barely gets a footnote in history, while the machines that were built get all of the credit. Ultimately they were just collections of vaccuum tubes - it was Rejewski that gave them a purpose. Turing was brilliant of course and should be revered, but not alone.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by ezeecheez ( 931550 )
      If it makes you feel better, I recently read 'The Man Who Knew Too Much', a book about Turing, and the author of that book gives Rejewski and his team props...
    • Naturally Wikipedia has an excellent article on his contribution:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marian_Rejewski#The_E nigma_machine [wikipedia.org]

    • Re:Marian Rejewski (Score:5, Informative)

      by Mahy ( 111194 ) on Thursday September 07, 2006 @01:37PM (#16060650) Homepage
      Turing didn't just wire the thing up: He came up with the approach that allowed them to deal with the plug board.

      It is even less well known that Turing's Bombes were unable to solve the 4-wheel Naval Enigma. The 4-wheel Naval Enigma was actually solved by engineers working for NCR in Dayton Ohio, led by Joe Desch. Their contributions were classified until the mid-90s, and so were not well known. See:

      1) http://www.daytoncodebreakers.com/ [daytoncodebreakers.com]
      2) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Desch [wikipedia.org]
      • I saw a documentary on PBS about the NCR team. Joe Desch basically invented RAM to make a faster Enigma-breaker. It turns out he made a general enough design for the machines that they could extend them to break the 4-digit Enigma.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by igb ( 28052 )
        That may have been one source of bombes for the 4-wheel Enigma (Triton / Neptune). Doc Keen or British Tabulators also built extensions to the Turing Bombe to cope with the fourth wheel, by simple running the existing three rather faster and adding a fourth, slow wheel. The original design had been quite conservative with regard to the counter used to test for `drops', and given the experience of operation they could speed the whole design up fairly easily. It's documented in Strip's book of essays, `Cod
    • Re:Marian Rejewski (Score:5, Informative)

      by igb ( 28052 ) on Thursday September 07, 2006 @01:46PM (#16060716)
      No one with half an understanding underestimates Rejewski's contributions, but your article is somewhat wide of the mark. Firstly, Rejewski's work focussed on the attacks on the double-encipherment of the message setting in the indicators prior to about 1940. By use of the bomba he was able to produce tables of `males' and `females' which indicated the circumstances under which the double-encipherment of the indicator offered a route into the message settings. Rejewski's method didn't require any knowledge of the plain text, but did crucially depend on the structure of the indicators. His work was replicated in the UK in the construction of Jeffries Sheets.

      However, although Turing/Welchman's bombe paid explicit homage to the Polish work in the choice of name, its task was fundamentally different. The bombe provided a means to look for message settings based on the cipher text and conjectured plain text. Its weakness was the requirement for plain text, which was a massive task to obtain through traffic analysis of sterotyped messages, `kisses' with broken systems such as the Dockyard Key, weather reports transmitted in other cipher systems and so on. Its strength was that it was independent of the indicator system, which was one of the easier things to change in the Enigma system.

      The Polish contribution lay in the machines themselves, the analysis of the indicator systems and the bomba (bomby? spelling may be wrong): together they showed other people that Enigma could be attacked, and provided a plentiful supply of cribs. Had the Poles not succeeded, it's unlikely that the British could have got the resources for their work. But to claim that the Polish work was the basis for the Bletchley work subsequent to the changes in the indicator system is not right.

      And, if we're being picky, there might have been the odd vacumn tube in the implementation of the diagonal board's ``all on or none on'' algorithm. But bombes were essentially mechanical devices. The four-rotor ones must have been amazing to be near...


    • Re:Marian Rejewski (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Ilex ( 261136 ) on Thursday September 07, 2006 @01:49PM (#16060746)
      Actually there is a memorial to the polish cryptologists at Bletchley Park so their contribution has been recognized.

      It was actually Marian Rejewski who designed the Cryptologic bomb [wikipedia.org]. Bomba being the polish word for Bomb.

      Turing developed the Electro-Mechanical Bomb which was capable of cracking the more sophisticated versions of the Enigma code.

      It's well worth taking a trip to Bletchley Park if you get the opportunity.
      It's more than just code breaking. It covers the whole history of computing.
    • by hughk ( 248126 )
      The Poles were important. They obtained a lot of the initial information about the Enigma machine and its weaknesses. Turing turned the breaking of Enigma into something that could be run on an assembly line.

      If you go to Bletchley Park, you will see that all the early work was acknowledged. However, with all so much German high command communications going via Enigma, there was no possibility of securing the plaintexts without the system at BP. Forget the mechanisation, there was also a vast human organis

    • by solitas ( 916005 )
      Finally, somebody else who appreciates Rejewski's work!

      Plainly, he was the giant 'upon whose shoulders everyone else stood' when it came to defeating the Enigma process.

      A decent place to start: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marian_Rejewski [wikipedia.org]
  • Collossus is not a computer, it was not freely programmable. It was merely able to do pattern matching with a couple of LFSRs. This is still miles from a turing complete machine.
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by TigerTim ( 968445 )
      I guess fortunately for them they were trying to win a war, and not build a Turing-complete computer :-) The novelty of Colossus was that it successfully used 1500 valves without a prohibitively high failure rate --- it was not at all obvious that this was possible at the time and largely due to the oft-unsung hero Tommy Flowers [wikipedia.org]. (But you knew all that already)
      • by Ilex ( 261136 ) on Thursday September 07, 2006 @02:34PM (#16061087)
        Yes Colossus is a digital computer. It was partially re-programmable. I think you were thinking of the bomba which is simply an Electro-Mechanical device.

        Colossus was used to break the Lorenz SZ 40/42 cipher used for communicating between high level members of Hitler's regime. The Lorenz teleprinter had 12 rotors as opposed to the 4 wheels on the Enigma. The bomba was uses to break the 4 wheel Enigma.

        Because the Colossus machine was highly classified for many years Tommy Flowers and his team were deprived of the recognition they deserve.

        • WIkipedia states that it was not turing complete, although some programing was achivable by rewiring. But isn't it ironic that the computer that Turing helped create wasn't turring complete?
          • Only if Turing helped create Colossus, but he didn't, or at least, he did only very indirectly.
          • by fatphil ( 181876 )
            Your PC isn't Turing Complete.
            Blue Gene isn't Turing Complete.

            Of course Colossus was't Turing Complete.

            • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

              by inviolet ( 797804 )

              Useless objection. We all understand that Turing-completeness requires infinite memory. So, when we say that a machine is Turing-complete, we are understood to mean "This machine is Turing-complete qua available memory".

              Oh. I'm sorry. I didn't realize that you were disrupting the conversation just to show off your alleged mental prowess.

        • Turing's Bombe was used to break the 3-rotor Enigma, in use up unti 1943. Joe Desch, working for NCR in Dayton, built the machines that decrypted the 4-rotor Enigma.
  • Why? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by neoshroom ( 324937 ) on Thursday September 07, 2006 @01:17PM (#16060468)
    Anyone know why Churchill ordered it destroyed? I don't quite understand the purpose of doing so.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by TigerTim ( 968445 )
      One possible explanation is that Churchill believed it to be stategically unwise for the rest of the world to know that Britain had such an advanced codebreaking capability. The usefulness of the Bletchley Park operation of course lay in the fact that the Germans believed Enigma was uncrackable. Of course, the military desire for secrecy (cynics might refer to it as paranoia) usually means the question is turned on it's head: rather than "why destroy this?" the question asked is "why should we make this pu
    • Re:Why? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by igb ( 28052 ) on Thursday September 07, 2006 @01:53PM (#16060783)
      I'm not sure it's entirely true, anyway. The claim's always made that the reason the British didn't reveal that they'd broken Enigma (in the way in which the Americans rapidly documented the breaks into Red and Purple as soon as the war was over) was that the British were selling Enigma to misguided European powers, advertising it as the German's finest, without revealing they'd broken into it. For this story to make sense, the British would have to have retained the ability to break into Enigma.

      It's always rumoured that Collossi were in service at Cheltenham into the sixties, attacking various Fish-style machine baudot-code ciphers. It doesn't seem unreasonable to suggest that a bombe or two were kept as well: with the use of the diagonal board, they were probably faster than an emulation in a computer would have been.


      • by hughk ( 248126 )
        Please remember that the Soviets had little knowledge of the allied success with Enigma and the Lorenz/Siemens telex ciphers. The product (Magic/Ultra) was quite successfully written off to humint and even most customers seemed to believe there was a high ranking source leaking keys/plaintexts.

        The DDR definitely continued to use both for some period after the war. The Soviets continued to use methods used in the telex stream ciphers that could be attacked by Collossus. I'm sure that Collossus didn't survi

      • Yeah. Wikipedia says:

        "After World War II, some fifty bombes were retained at Eastcote, while the rest were destroyed. The surviving bombes were put to work, possibly on Eastern bloc ciphers (Smith, 1998). The official history of the bombe states that "some of these machines were to be stored away but others were required to run new jobs and sixteen machines were kept comparatively busy on menus. It is interesting to note that most of the jobs came up and the operating, checking and oth
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by zmollusc ( 763634 )
      I think it was so that nobody would try to make a better encryption than enigma, just variations on it. Thus the codebreakers would have a head start at cracking any postwar encrypted traffic.
    • I don't think that statement is accurate. There is an extensive display on Enigma and the bombes at the NSA museum in Maryland. A large number of bombes were physically in the US, and the US was given the plans so they could build them. A large chunk of one is part of the display.

      There are a number of versions of the Enigma machine on display as well, including a pre war commercial version with labeling in English. As I recall, the German military version added another rotor.
  • by Snarfangel ( 203258 ) on Thursday September 07, 2006 @01:17PM (#16060469) Homepage
    That's a dangerous animal! Quick, throw it in the trough!
  • Has anyone written up an program to emulate the functions of the Turing Bombe (and, for that matter, software to encrypt something in the Enigma cypher?)
  • Oh no! (Score:5, Funny)

    by cold fjord ( 826450 ) on Thursday September 07, 2006 @01:18PM (#16060484)

    Somebody set up us the bombe!
  • by JohnGrahamCumming ( 684871 ) * <slashdotNO@SPAMjgc.org> on Thursday September 07, 2006 @01:22PM (#16060516) Homepage Journal
    It's not very well known but the unusual name 'bombe' actual caused the entire hip hop explosion in the US, for which Alan Turing is directly responsible. As well we as the Undecidability problem, Turing machines and the Turing test, Turing was responsible, after a demonstration of the code breaking machine to top UK officials at the MOD received a standing ovation, to have remarked "Truly gentlemen this machine represents the finest British engineering, and is da bombe".

    It is unknown when the final e from bombe was dropped.
    • by Flying pig ( 925874 ) on Thursday September 07, 2006 @02:16PM (#16060960)
      (1) NO MOD official would ever applaud anything done by British scientists/engineers. And (2) one of AMT's greatest attributes was his willingness to transcend the mathematician/scientist/engineer divide.

      The actual approach to technology of the MOD is this:
      Ignore British invention for 20 years or so
      Buy it when it is produced in the US
      Claim that British technology is inadequate and we must always follow the Americans.

      And if you think I'm bitter about the Cocks encryption method (RSA), or the entire postwar history of British technology - yes, I am.

    • Truly gentlemen this machine represents the finest British engineering, and is da bombe

      And the crowd chanted: It truly roxors our boxors!
  • by vossman77 ( 300689 ) on Thursday September 07, 2006 @01:48PM (#16060739) Homepage
    From the headline:

    "The replica joins a recreated electronic Colossus -- generally considered the first electronic computer."

    Please see this chart [wikipedia.org] before making such claims. It is only the second electronic computer but the first programmable electronic computer.
    • Please bear in mind that Wikipedia is not the definitive source of truth in the universe. That fact that person a's opinions differ from person Wikipedia's opinions does not make them de facto incorrect.

      Having just returned from a remote part of northern India, I discovered almost everything about the place in Wikipedia is:

      a: Plagiarised from the handful of guidebooks that exist
      b: At least 15 years out of date - just like the guidebooks!


  • DMCA? (Score:1, Flamebait)

    by Gothmolly ( 148874 )
    Isn't that sort of think illegal in the US at least? Is that further proof that our laws are stupid?
  • tick tick tick (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dmccarty ( 152630 ) on Thursday September 07, 2006 @01:57PM (#16060820)
    From the article: The replica goes on general display at Bletchley Park on September 23.

    Hopefully they'll do more than just display it. I would love to hear the ticking sound of one running. (Incidentally, that's where the name "bombe" comes from.)

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by hughk ( 248126 )
      I had the pleasure of seeing the replica Collossus running with an explanation by Tony Sale, the project leader for the recreation. I heard it running too (there were some relays but it was mostly the tape loop that created the noise).

      The recerated design came from engineers notes (illegally retained) and a few photographs.

      The phrase 'I am not worthy' comes to mind...

  • ...this was an article about an explosive device capable of cracking Bill Gates' innermost thoughts... but perhaps I was mistaken...

  • by Dhrakar ( 32366 ) on Thursday September 07, 2006 @02:02PM (#16060864)
    Actually, the title 'First Electronic Computer' is not as cut-n-dried as that. There is good evidence that the title should really go to the Z3 from Conrad Zuse. Other that Mauchly/Eckert his system is generally considered to be the best contender for first electronic computer.
    http://www.idsia.ch/~juergen/zuse.html [idsia.ch]
    • Werent those bombs non-programmable?
      They dont even compete in the eniac vs zuse-2 match...
      • by Nursie ( 632944 )
        Maybe he means colossus.

        The bombes were electromechanical devices used on enigma, colossus was a programmable computer built at bletchley park and used to crack lorentz.

        As usual we Brits had it destroyed and then kept the whole project under wraps for decades after the war, losing out on any technological advantage it might have given us. Tommy Flowers, the designer/builder was a worker for the general post office and he built colossus out of parts he borrowed from them. When the war was over he had to give
  • by OakDragon ( 885217 ) on Thursday September 07, 2006 @02:17PM (#16060963) Journal
    Still, I found [bbc.co.uk] some [scotsman.com] more [bbc.co.uk].
  • To See or not to See (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    If you are in the DC area, you can visit the National Cryptologic Museum, just off the BW parkway in MD. They have a couple of Bombes on display (not working) as well as a working Enigma machine. There are a small number of other exhibits that make it worth your while to stop in and check out.
    • by Peyna ( 14792 )
      Well, if you have a shovel and a lot of time, supposedly there are also a number of them buried along the banks of the Great Miami River in Dayton.
  • xfghb chnbg snhwq (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Skiron ( 735617 )
    cnkxh xqjzx apqxk kqxya qxhtr qxngt sdopq zluyz :-)
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Here's a good history of the physical machines development.

    http://www.daytondailynews.com/search/content/proj ect/enigma/enigma_index.html [daytondailynews.com]
    • by Peyna ( 14792 )
      Another link regarding a recent documentary on the group at Dayton: Dayton Codebreaks [daytoncodebreakers.org].
    • The early bombes were built by The British Tabulating Machine Company [demon.co.uk]. The later, improved version (with a printer) was built by NCR in Dayton. The initial British Tabulating Machine version just slowed and stopped after a hit, and someone had to crank the thing backwards to the hit point, record the settings, and restart, since many hits were false alarms. The improved version would stop, reverse to the hit point, print the stop info, and restart.

      Visit Bletchley Park if you're in London. It's a shor

  • Is it just me, or does it seem somehow appropriate (considering our appetites for things large) that the American version of the bombe was 2.5 tons, while the British bombe weighed in at a mere 1 ton? (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bombe)
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by mparker762 ( 315146 )
      It's just you. The british bombe's were used on the 3-rotor enigma but couldn't handle the naval 4-rotor enigma. The american version was a bigger variant (and there were many more of them) to handle the much more difficult naval variant.
  • A. T. (Score:1, Redundant)

    Alan Turing, the man who felt a computer intelligence could have a soul if God wished it. And who died Snow White style, via a poisoned apple at far too young an age. RIP.
  • by d2ksla ( 89385 ) <krister.kmlager@com> on Thursday September 07, 2006 @09:21PM (#16063538) Homepage
    From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arne_Beurling [wikipedia.org]:

    Arne Carl-August Beurling (February 3, 1905 - November 20, 1986) was a mathematician and professor of mathematics at Uppsala University (1937-1954) and later at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, USA.

    In 1940 he single-handedly deciphered and reverse-engineered an early version of the Geheimfernschreiber (one of the "Fish cyphers") used by Nazi Germany, and created a device that enabled Sweden to decipher German teleprinter traffic passing through Sweden from Norway on a cable. In this way, Swedish authorities knew about Operation Barbarossa before it occurred. This became the foundation for the Swedish Swedish National Defence Radio Establishment (FRA). (The cypher in the Geheimfernschreiber is generally considered to be more complex than the cypher used in the Enigma machines.)

  • I had thought ENIAC was the first computer (generally considered by whom?), and from looking at the Wikipedia article, it seems the Colossus wasn't actually a computer:

    Colossus was the first of the electronic digital machines to feature limited programmability. However, it was not a fully general purpose computer, not being Turing-complete, even though Alan Turing on whose research this definition was based, worked at Bletchley Park where Colossus was put into operation. It was not then realized that Turin

"If you lived today as if it were your last, you'd buy up a box of rockets and fire them all off, wouldn't you?" -- Garrison Keillor