Colossus at 75, ITV Anglia News 29 May 2019

ITV Anglia’s report on Colossus at 75 in the run-up to D-Day anniversary at The National Museum of Computing. Includes archive footage of Tommy Flowers, creator of Colossus, and an interview with nonagenarian wartime Wren Irene Dixon. Footage courtesy ITV Anglia.

Colossus was a set of computers developed by British codebreakers in the years 1943–1945 to help in the cryptanalysis of the Lorenz cipher. Colossus used thermionic valves (vacuum tubes) to perform Boolean and counting operations. Colossus is thus regarded as the world’s first programmable, electronic, digital computer, although it was programmed by switches and plugs and not by a stored program.

Tommy Flowers

Colossus was designed by research telephone engineer Tommy Flowers to solve a problem posed by mathematician Max Newman at the Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS) at Bletchley Park. Alan Turing’s use of probability in cryptanalysis (see Banburismus) contributed to its design. It has sometimes been erroneously stated that Turing designed Colossus to aid the cryptanalysis of the Enigma.  Turing’s machine that helped decode Enigma was the electromechanical Bombe, not Colossus.

 

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