Nazi Code Breaking..No Biggie

#1
Well, someone had lots of time on their hands.. seems that a Ham operator from Germany who dabbles in writing programmes for computers took on the task of deciphering WWII Nazi codes using his laptop while pitted against a re-built Collossus WWII Computer.. kind of unfair, given the supposed evolution in computing this century..

but, to me.. it wasn't that big a revelation.. , I mean 60 years later and a PC takes 2 hours to break the code while the Collossus took 3 hours 35 minutes...
pretty good for last century technology..[ not to mention the complexity of the Nazi codes.. ]
 
#6
Joking aside, what I would really like to know is how they managed to rebuild colossus when the plans were supposed to have been destroyed after the war. A fact confirmed by Tommy Flowers who designed and built it from scratch, as he admitted to taking all the plans to the boilerhouse and burning them in the furnace and all the machines were broken up.
 
#8
gundog said:
Joking aside, what I would really like to know is how they managed to rebuild colossus when the plans were supposed to have been destroyed after the war. A fact confirmed by Tommy Flowers who designed and built it from scratch, as he admitted to taking all the plans to the boilerhouse and burning them in the furnace and all the machines were broken up.
you've just got to want it really badly. if you cant, you obviously dont care about it enough.

seriously, i doubt the british army/government didnt make a sneaky copy at some point. that machine played a massive part in winning the war, how likely is it that they would allow it to be destroyed for ever?

either that or they got a group of boffins together in a room and said, 'you can only use stuff available during ww2, now make me a code breaker or no afternoon tea for a year'

no reason a clever chap couldnt re-invent it. obviously it wouldnt be identical, but with descriptions from people who saw it and such, you could probably make one as close as it makes no odds.
 
#9
christheclimber said:
gundog said:
Joking aside, what I would really like to know is how they managed to rebuild colossus when the plans were supposed to have been destroyed after the war. A fact confirmed by Tommy Flowers who designed and built it from scratch, as he admitted to taking all the plans to the boilerhouse and burning them in the furnace and all the machines were broken up.
you've just got to want it really badly. if you cant, you obviously dont care about it enough.

seriously, i doubt the british army/government didnt make a sneaky copy at some point. that machine played a massive part in winning the war, how likely is it that they would allow it to be destroyed for ever?

either that or they got a group of boffins together in a room and said, 'you can only use stuff available during ww2, now make me a code breaker or no afternoon tea for a year'

no reason a clever chap couldnt re-invent it. obviously it wouldnt be identical, but with descriptions from people who saw it and such, you could probably make one as close as it makes no odds.
Living near Bletchley Park, I have listened to the story of the rebuild: yes, absolutely everything was destroyed after WW2, on the orders of Churchill himself: so secret was the entire thing, that one couple who married after the war, only discovered they had both worked at Bletchley when they met at a reunion: neither one even faintly suspected the other of working there.

Also yes - they did re-create it from first principles: in part making intelligent (inspired?) guesses about the mechanisms.
 
#10
According to the book “Station X” some went to GCHQ as it was thought that the code machines used by the Germans may find new homes in foreign embassies. That was why it was kept secret.

I have lent my copy to the in law so can’t give chapter and verse.
 
#11
offog said:
According to the book “Station X” some went to GCHQ as it was thought that the code machines used by the Germans may find new homes in foreign embassies. That was why it was kept secret.

I have lent my copy to the in law so can’t give chapter and verse.
Some what? ULTRA machines, or Bombes? (if this thread is about the Bombes - Colossus was a different machine: see below)

The former were v portable, (typewriter size). The latter weren't.

From the Bletchley website:
The Bombe

Before World War II, Polish crypto-analysts had already designed an electro-mechanical machine to test Enigma rotor settings called a ‘Bomba’. However, in December 1938 the German military changed their system slightly thus thwarting the Poles’ ability to decrypt Enigma messages.

Before the war started, the Poles passed all of their information over to the Britain and France and two mathematicians working at Bletchley Park, Alan Turing and Gordon Welchman, were able to build on this research to develop the ‘Bombe’ machine. Turing and Welchman exploited the fact that enciphered German messages often contained common words or phrases, such as general’s names or weather reports and so were able to guess short parts of the original message. These guesses were called ‘cribs’. The fact that on an Enigma machine no letter can be enciphered as itself made guessing a small part of the text even easier. It also meant that the potential number of settings that the Enigma could be in on that day was greatly reduced.

Before running the Bombe, the wiring at the back of the machine was connected in accordance with a ‘menu’ drawn up by the code breakers based on cribs. The Bombe found potential Enigma settings not by proving a particular setting, but by disproving every incorrect one in turn.

Over 200 of the Bombes were built by the British Tabulating Machine company at Letchworth, all of which were destroyed after the war. A Bombe machine is being rebuilt at Bletchley Park,
Colossus
The first machine designed to break the Lorenz was built at the Post Office research department at Dollis Hill and called ‘Heath Robinson’ after the cartoonist designer of fantastic machines. Although Heath Robinson worked well enough to show that Max Newman’s concepts were correct, it was slow and unreliable.

Max Newman called in the help of Tommy Flowers, a brilliant Post Office Electronics Engineer. Flowers went on to design and build ‘Colossus’, a much faster and more reliable machine that used 1,500 thermionic valves (vacuum tubes). The first Colossus machine arrived at Bletchley in December 1943. This was the world’s first practical electronic digital information processing machine - a forerunner of today’s computers.

Lorenz had to be cracked by carrying out compex statistical analyses on the intercepted messages. Colossus could read paper tape at 5,000 characters per second and the paper tape in its wheels travelled at 30 miles per hour. This meant that the huge amount of mathematical work that needed to be done could be carried out in hours, rather than weeks.

Mark I Colossus was upgraded to a Mark II in June 1944, and was working in time for Eisenhower and Montgomery to be sure that Hitler had swallowed the deception campaigns prior to D-Day on June 6th 1944. There were eventually 10 working Colossus machines at Bletchley Park.
 
#12
I cannot believe that GCHQ would have thrown anything away...

Call me cynical, but my pet theory goes something like this...

Allies are left at the end of the war with a load of ex Nazi cypher technology, which they could break. After the war, as part of the reconstruction of the western world, western governments present reforming governments with recycled cipher machines. The process continues into the 50's with cipher technology being given to emerging nations as empires break up...

The fact we could break these cyphers was always an official secret, however just to make sure, Churchhill issues the "destroy everything" edict, which is given to everyone who worked for BP during the war, and who can now say - yes we could break mechnical ciphers, but we no longer can.

Core technology of colossos etc now disappears into the depths of the West Country and is used for the next 40 years until mechnical cypher systems become obsolete in the 90s...

Nod is then given to the folk in the BP museum that it is OK to reconstruct colossos, and "my oh my" suddenly plans "appear" out of technicians tool boxes...

Off to get my new tinfoil hat fitted...

HE (Cynical) 117
 
#13
Airfix said:
But can Collossus surf for porn? I think not!

Game, set and match to PCs!
No, but the service dollies who serviced the machine area found it very hot (thousands of valves and all that), so would partially disrobe and even set up clothes lines to dry their undies. Allegedly

I wonder where they are now ?
 
#14
whiffler said:
Airfix said:
But can Collossus surf for porn? I think not!

Game, set and match to PCs!
No, but the service dollies who serviced the machine area found it very hot (thousands of valves and all that), so would partially disrobe and even set up clothes lines to dry their undies. Allegedly

I wonder where they are now ?
. . . in my mind's eye . . . . . :wink:
 
#15
duffdike said:
I bet Collossus doesn't crash as often as Windows does. :)
Aeroflot doesn't crash as much as Windows!
 
#17
I've just don a bit more rooting about on the Bletchley Park website. These are from their news section (about the German guy's software beating the newly rebuilt Colossus):

The 10 original Colossus machines, which were located at at Bletchley Park, enabled code breakers to decrypt top-secret communications sent by German high command, leading to the war being shortened by many months and saving thousands of lives.
Owing to the secrecy surrounding Colossus at the time, the dismantling of the ten operating machines at Bletchley was ordered immediately after the war. Another two which were not operational at Bletchley were sent elsewhere and dismantled in the 1960s.
Over the past 14 years Tony Sale, of the National Museum of Computing, has led a team rebuilding a Colossus computer using fragments of design plans and photographs and by gleaning information from those involved in the creation of the original.
 
#18
Hey!.. who snapped a picture of my basement? and who stole the Josef Stalin bobble-head doll that was perched on the dial thingy to the left?

Damn!

Tother day I visited the exhibits at Camp X, the WWII spy-training centre that William Stephenson set up and Ian Fleming supposedly sat in on..they have a nice display of gadgets, including a code machine/'mini-radio ' transmitter that fits in a small suitcase, among other toys..

scared me that a lot of what passed for ' memorabilia/antiques of war' looked a lot like the stuff I grew up with..

double damn!.. I'm old...

was typing something up on my old Remington portable when the grandson came in and watched my finger pickings and the type thwacking on the paper as it scrolled out over the roller.

" Kule!.. It's got a built in printer! " says he.
 
#19
Rocketeer said:
Hey!.. who snapped a picture of my basement? and who stole the Josef Stalin bobble-head doll that was perched on the dial thingy to the left?

Damn!

Tother day I visited the exhibits at Camp X, the WWII spy-training centre that William Stephenson set up and Ian Fleming supposedly sat in on..they have a nice display of gadgets, including a code machine/'mini-radio ' transmitter that fits in a small suitcase, among other toys..

scared me that a lot of what passed for ' memorabilia/antiques of war' looked a lot like the stuff I grew up with..

double damn!.. I'm old...
in the imperial war museum, there is one jumper, as worn by Harry Re, a british spy who operated in occupied france, and was incidently, a headmaster at my secondry school (albeit about 40 years before i got there), with a description along the lines of:

the jumper harry re was wearing when he was shot evading capture. the hole has been darned up.

am i the only one who thinks if you want to display such an item, surely leaving the hole there is a good idea. now its just a black jumper.
 
Thread starter Similar threads Forum Replies Date
polar Royal Signals 4
PartTimePongo Current Affairs, News and Analysis 10
OldSnowy The Training Wing 18

Similar threads

Latest Threads

Top