Hawley’s blatant off-topic ramble!

Wotcha everyone,

It seems that Bletchley Park is to receive some much needed love from the the British Government.  Yay.

What does this have to do about Warhammer Online?  Absolutely nothing.  Yes, I am hideously abusing my position here, to let me ramble on about something that really interests me, and has done for many, many years.

Leaving all national instincts, bigotry, and pride aside, Bletchley Park is a place of magic, wonder and awe for me.

I first started reading about Bletchley Park, or “Station X” as it was officially known as, by accident.  I was voraciously consuming books in a vain attempt to keep myself sane whilst commuting for four hours a day on the joke that is the British rail system.  After a few months of bad fiction, I started on non-fiction, and with the prevalence of books on the Second World War, it was easy to pick up a couple of books that dealt with what happened at Station X, how, and why.

It’s got a fascinating history, albeit one that was so short.  In just a few years, it went from a group of academics and playboys “playing” at code-breaking, to a ground-breaking powerhouse, capable of reading anything, anywhere.

All of a sudden, there were no secrets.

It was also the birthplace of the PC.  Colossus might have been the size of my bedroom, and had enough valves in it to light Blackpool Illuminations, but it was the shape of things to come.  It was the future.

Now, I’m not stating that without Colossus, without Bletchley Park, we wouldn’t have PCs.  But the model, the form, that computing takes was set by Colossus.  By a largely unknown genius who used a bunch of parts normally used to make telephones, to build a modern Wonder of the World in a weekend.

From there and then, to here and now.

Since the war, Bletchley Park has languished.  Largely because of the Official Secrets Act (some of what went on there is *still* secret, over seventy years later).  But now some cash has been found to try and save part of it.  Will it help save cute furry animals from extinction?  Will it help end world poverty?  Will it cure cancer?  Will it bollocks.

I suppose the main reason for being so fascinated by Bletchley Park is that it is the birthplace of the geek.  Forget the authors of fantasy and science fiction novels; Bletchley Park gave us PCs, and from there comes all the cool things that make us geeks.  And that’s why I’m happy it’s got some love.

Cheers,
Hawley.

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3 Responses

  1. Good news!

  2. I went to Bletchly Park during a study abroad two week cryptography class held in London (wow, 2 years ago now 😦 ). I think I’m spoiled by the movies as the site isn’t what I would think of when I think Government compound. None the less, it’s an impressive site. Not much is left as to the machinery and I think the only decoding machine they had left was a replica used in the movie. They did have the Colossus though and that was impressive. Just seeing it and knowing people used it and got useful information from it boggles the mind. I think that’s what really gets me about this place. Seeing what was cutting edge at the time in relation to what is commonplace now.

    As part of the class I wrote a simulator for the Enigma (the encryption machine they were trying to break messages from) and it was complicated and not 100% accurate. The fact that they used circuitry to test pathways and such is amazing to me. I dare say the way they were doing it was more efficient (on a per “guess” basis) than we can achieve with computer programs now. This is offset by the time required to change the input though.

    Anyway, felt like commenting on this since I’ve been there and I hope one day to be able to visit London again.

  3. How you think when the economic crisis will end? I wish to make statistics of independent opinions!

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