Turing-Welchman Bombe to stay on the Bletchley Park Estate

Following its hugely successful Crowdfunder, The National Museum of Computing (TNMOC) on the Bletchley Park Estate has started planning a new gallery for the working reconstruction of the Turing-Welchman Bombe. Over four weeks, more than 500 supporters generously donated £60,000 – £10,000 more than the ambitious target set at the beginning of the campaign.

Commissioning the creation for the new Bombe Gallery is now underway. Planned to open this summer, the gallery will be located close to the existing world-famous Colossus Gallery. Together these two displays will explore the ingenuity and inventiveness of the Second World War codebreakers — and the beginnings of our digital world.

The Turing-Welchman Bombe accelerated the breaking of Enigma-enciphered messages revealing enemy operations. Colossus, created by a team led by Tommy Flowers, sped up the deciphering of Lorenz strategic messages of Hitler and his German High Command.

Andrew Herbert, chair of trustees at The National Museum of Computing, said: “The generosity of the Crowdfunder donors has astonished us. As an organisation that is reliant solely on sales and voluntary donations for income, we initially thought that the £50,000 target, although necessary, might be too ambitious. We continue to receive off-Crowdfunder donations, but we already know that we have exceeded our target by £10,000.

“The messages of support we have received from donors are also inspiring and motivating. It’s clear that the public understand and appreciate what we strive to do in presenting dynamic displays about the development of computing from its earliest days.”

The breadth and depth of interest in the project is evident in the 168 notes of support on the Crowdfunder website https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/new-display/comments/. Donations came from people of all ages and from all walks of life, from organisations, from world-famous museums and from many parts of the world:

  • I was at Bletchley Park during the war building the original Bombe. Delighted that the replica Bombe will have a new home next to Colossus. (93-year-old woman)
  • Your work is both an inspiration today and a wonderful monument to those who conceived and built the originals
  • Having joined ICL in 1970 and spent most of my working life in computing, I wish to see our computing heritage secure and available for future students to understand.
  • The UK micro-computing explosion in the 70s and 80s made me part of the brain drain but I’m proud of the history that got me over here, so I try to pay it back when I can. (from the USA)
  • One day I’ll be there to see the machine with my eyes, please keep going maintaining those machines that make computer history alive. (from Italy)
  • The Bombe and Colossus need to be shown together – it’s an historical step change.

Andrew Herbert concluded: “We warmly thank everyone who made the Bombe Crowdfunder such a resounding success. Trustees, staff and our highly skilled volunteer force now relish the prospect of telling even more of the stories of the people and the machines that changed our world. By conserving our digital heritage, we aim to engage and inspire students, computing professionals and the general public from across the world.”

The original Bombe Crowdfunder appeal: http://www.tnmoc.org/news/news-releases/keep-bombe-bletchley-park-estate-crowdfunder

Written by: 85