back to article Bletchley Park fires up replica Turing Bombe

Bletchley Park will tomorrow fire up a replica Turing Bombe to celebrate the Engineering Heritage Award which recognises the 13 years of hard graft which have gone into recreating the legendary Enigma-busting kit. The Bombe was the brainchild of Alan Turing and Gordon Welchman, and the 210 machines manufactured by the British …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Can't wait to see this running

    But will it play Spacewar?

  2. Dave Harris

    Fantastic work

    Many congrats to all involved

  3. Peter Simpson

    Notice the drip pan bottom left side?

    A remarkable job. I visited BP when I was last in the UK, it's a very worthwhile visit, and remarkable that it has been preserved.

    For those in the US, the NCR version of the Bombe is available for your viewing pleasure (though behind a glass shield) at the NSA Museum in Maryland.

    Mine's the one with the Enigma rotor in the pocket

  4. Anonymous Coward


    Cut the red wire!

    No seriously was red on discount or something?

  5. Andy Barber

    I want a Bombe... add to my computer collection!

  6. Ed Blackshaw Silver badge


    ...can it run Crysis at full?

  7. Yorkshirepudding

    can it....

    tell me next weeks lotto numbers?

    but seriously fantastic work to those involved would hate to see such a excellent example of british boffinrey go to waste especially since it helped in ze war

  8. Anonymous Coward

    Cable-ties in 1940???

    How accurate a replica is it then; what HW does it have running hidden away under all that wiring & what OS is it running?

    Seriously though - a job well done.

  9. Bob H


    ...more like, will it run Wolfenstein 3D?

  10. The Dorset Rambler
    Thumb Up

    Just awesome.

    Hats off to all concerned.

  11. TeeCee Gold badge

    @Ed Blackshaw

    If it can, that'll be a Bombe Surprise......

  12. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Top Secret ... MKUltraSenstive.

    "But... ...can it run Crysis at full?" ..... By Ed Blackshaw Posted Monday 23rd March 2009 13:05 GMT

    Err, Ed, Bletchley Boffins can do anything they like. And not a lot of people know that..... but then they wouldn't, would they, for they wouldn't have the necessary clearances or aptitudes either and would be naturally excluded from ....... well, you don't really need to know any more and therefore won't from Third Party Forces/Sources. They're a Canny Precious Bunch, and there's no doubt about that, but nothing at all like you might possibly Imagine from Tales of Yore.

  13. Robert Hill
    Thumb Up

    Once again, the site for donations is...

    Seems that no thread about Bletchley Park is complete without the web address for donations to help support their work, and more information on the BP site:

    They accept PayPal or WorldPay, top right hand corner of the home page, so no excuses now...

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    ...a Beowulf Cluster of these.

  15. Paul Taylor


    Neither the article nor the Bletchley Park web site explains where they got the valves from for the reconstruction. Does anyone still make them, or were they reclaimed from other equipment?

  16. John Smith Gold badge

    @the NSA Museum in Maryland

    There is no gift shop, no post cards for sale and you check all video and sound recording equipment at the door.

    "Thank you for your cooperation."

    "We hope you enjoy your visit, but if asked later we will deny all knowledge of it."

  17. Brian Miller

    All relays, way to go!

    The Bombe machine only used relays, as it duplicated the functionality of the German Enigma rotor machine. If it had used electronics, I'm sure that the Bletchly boffins would have been overjoyed.

  18. Alan Ferris
    Thumb Up


    If you go to BP and do the tour, you will hear that the valves were acquired every time a BT exchange was upgraded .... BT would tell them and they'd go and pillage the exchange. I believe that Bletchley Park have enough in stock for a number of decades

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    When they turn it on it will probably declare war on Germany and then fall over with a BSOD.

    Only joking - great stuff and well done to all involved!

  20. Mick Gower

    Didn't the Poles invent the Bombe

    I though the Poles invented the Bombe and smuggled it to UK during the war

  21. Anonymous Coward

    It's too late!

    There's only a bloomin' German frigate moored next to HMS Belfast! I suggest we all start running Enigma@Home pretty damned sharpish to prevent such a thing occurring again.

  22. A J Stiles

    @ Paul Taylor re: Valves?

    Where did they get the valves from? Same place that sells CV joints for BMWs and distributor caps for Citroën 2CVs, probably.

    Have we milked the car analogy to death yet?

  23. Mage Silver badge

    Finding WWII valves

    The other machine at Bletchley uses valves.

    Likely such things as 6V6, EF39.

    you can get them on eBay. it's possible someone in Russia or China makes them. Some are still used in retro Audio Amplifers.

    You can even buy 807 as used in WWII 19 set transmitter.

    Yes the 1st Bombe was Polish and the guys that brought it never knew till years after war what happened in Bletchley.

  24. PunkTiger

    1500 Valves

    No love for Tommy Flowers, then? ...just kidding.

    I'm always amused that our friends across the pond call vacuum tubes "valves." It's an apt description for what they do, sure, but it sounds very steampunk-y to my ears.

    "I bought an old valve radio at the boot sale!"

    "Well, fire up the boiler and tune in Radio 2, then."

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    A spffiy bit of boffinry

    Another punch to the lunch from that bunch. Well Done!

  26. Martin Silver badge

    @1500 Valves

    >I'm always amused that our friends across the pond call vacuum tubes "valves."

    Because they are a valve - they control the flow of electrical current like a valve does any other flow. What's does calling it a tube tell you?

    Of course what do you expect from a country that calls a sport where you carry an egg shaped object in your hand 'football' instead of 'handegg'

  27. NB

    wait what

    amanfromMars actually made semantic sense....

    /me ponders the implication that in some way someone has just divided by zero

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Does the Home Secretary know about this?

    Given the current financial crisis I'm sure HMG will do anything to shave costs, so maybe this little beast could help with the ID card database?

    No, hang on. That'll be £3.50 for the computer, and £24.5m for EDS to lap it up in consultancy fees (and to reserve some spare slots on the board when ministers have got chucked out on their ear).

    Paris because her valves need a bit of warming up. Allegedly.

  29. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Re wait what

    "amanfromMars actually made semantic sense....

    /me ponders the implication that in some way someone has just divided by zero" .... By NB Posted Monday 23rd March 2009 20:33 GMT


    It would be naive of everybody to think that Top Secret works [which for generations will never be revealed or third party discovered] are something which would ever stop, given their necessity to counter Man's Inhumanity to Man and Endemic Systemic Madness in the Destructive Psychosis of the Psycopathic and Criminally and Hopelessly Insane.

    But that is no dark secret ...... "Be careful Paul," she told him, he claimed today. "There are powers at work in this country about which we have no knowledge." .....

    Now that is an observation and a submission from one extremely smart lady, who would have such powers of which she would have no knowledge working in this country, at her Service .... OHMSIS. And should she feel/find that that is not the official case, then the Royal Household is Deficient and in Deficit of a Vital Organ of Right Regal Administration..... which would be an Indication of Tired Outdated Advice and Sub-Prime Performance.

  30. Mark

    @Mick Gower

    The Poles got hold of a commercial enigma machine by intercepting it in the post, figured out how it worked, put it back in the post and then did a runner to Paris with the information, which got passed to allied forces. The enigma was around in the early 30s and there are numerous different versions.

    Turing and Welchman figured out that one of the best ways to find the settings for a given day was to find out which settings were impossible - thats what the bombe does, it rules out combinations that are impossible and leaves a reduced set of possibilities to be tried.

    If you are interested in the whole story I reccomend reading is "Enigma" by Hugh Seebag-Montefiore. Its an excellent book that covers the first creation of the enigma machines as a commercial unit for banks etc to use right through its development as a military machine and the struggle to break the code as well as introducing many of the famous names from Bletchley.

  31. Chewy


    Mostly still manufactured by either the Czechs, Russians or the Chinese. Most decent guitar amps still use them, and some parts of high end audio. Fatman iPod system also uses them.

  32. John Smith Gold badge


    "one of the best ways to find the settings for a given day was to find out which settings were impossible - that's what the bombe does"

    This approach appears to be still viable and is roughly what was done in the EFF DES cracker chips to demonstrate it could be broken by brute force (on average) in less than 31/2 days.

    I would say the grand challenge in this area (for money) would be breaking the Sky Digital encryption. My cursory reading of this is that it was developed by one of the 3 principles behind RSA now based in Israel. However while DES was 56 bits this is 2048. The current official record for factoring large primes (a key component of this stuff) is IIRC 336 bits.

    With enough storage one could archive their output and crack off line.

    Not that I'm advocating such behaviour. Just pointing out an interesting challenge.

  33. Mike


    A bomb! What are you giving him a bomb for? Thats a dangerous animal!

    ps. NB.... don't engage.... it's the only way to retain your sanity, you should know by now that amanfromMars is like the times cryptic crossword, but to find out the cryptic clues you have to work out an additional two levels of cryptic indirection like cluse to the clues, when really all you're waiting for is the answers so you can then work out the route how you would have got there.

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