back to article Register Lecture: Hidden heroes of Alan Turing's Enigma

A curse follows Enigma, the cryptography device deployed by Adolf Hitler's military during the WWII to protect their Morse communications from the Allies. That curse? Invisibility. Alan Turing has - now - become intrinsically linked with cracking Enigma, a machine of fiendish complexity capable of 159 million, million, million …

  1. A.P. Veening Silver badge


    I wish I could be there, but it is a bit further than just around the corner (one time zone away), so I won't be able to.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Unfortunately

      Reg Employee here...

      Lucky for you our lectures are available on our youtube channel!

      Search The Register or visit

      Or they will be posted on the register a week or two after the lecture. Just keep checking the lectures page!

      For example here's a lecture we did from April:

      Our lectures are filmed in a pub so if you ever find yourself in this time zone we'd love for you to attend!

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Unfortunately

        I didn't even know you had a YouTube channel and I spend too much time here than is good for me. Why no YouTube logo on the masthead or at the bottom-right of the page?

        This is like the mobile site all over again, it must have taken me years to find that as well.

  2. dermotw

    Me too... I'd like to be there but I'm in the wrong country :( :( ....

  3. IJD

    You'd think with modern technology it would be possible to do something like streaming the lecture live, or failing that recording it and making it available online afterwards. Millions of vloggers seem to be capable of doing this, surely it can't be beyond the wit of the organisers...

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      re: recording

      There were recordings made of the two previous lectures I've attended. They might be available somewhere but they are not well broadcast...

      Over to you Reg Staff!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: re: recording

        Reg Employee here...

        All the lectures will be available on our youtube channel. Search The Register or visit

        Or they will be posted on the register a week or two after the lecture. Just keep checking the lectures page

        It's not the best quality but we make do with the resources we have! Our lectures are filmed in a local pub to give it a chilled out feel so people feel comfortable. It's well worth attending if you can in future (there's free food!)

  4. Anonymal coward


    The one thing about TNMOC is that they don't operate on a shoestring; they'd be overjoyed if they were given a whole shoestring... Video recording equipment would cost money that could otherwise be spent on rebuilding something interesting.

    1. robidy

      Re: Shoestring...

      An awesome group of volunteers , I had the chance there to use WITCH after sponsoring a book about the site (the former wasn't a condition of the latter just coincidence).

      If you have spare cash then offer them a donation...of and if you can do go along to the event.

    2. _LC_

      Re: Shoestring...

      Today, literately 20 bucks for a "good enough" solution.

    3. fnusnu

      Re: Shoestring...

      I'm sure a local Uni would be delighted to host the talk and to broadcast it.

    4. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

      Re: Shoestring...

      A crap video recording from a DSLR or point-and-shoot is better than nothing. And would cost only the price of one of the volunteers remembering to bring theirs in.

      The information recorded would be well worth the effort.

  5. Jemma


    They didn't "break" it as such. It was more crappy cipher security by the luftwaffe & heer that kind of let them in (as well as some useful help from the Poles) and with that collection of information the key could be calculated from constants in messages such as "Heil Hitler". That said it worked unless you count the trouble with the U-boat system, referred to as "tunny" I think, that was regularly changed & updated.

    Turings later work is actually more interesting - and the Welchman story is even more depressing than Turings.

    PS British government - a half assed half baked apology for driving the guy to suicide or having him murdered after chemically castrating him is NOT OK, you fucking safe-spacing whiney snowflake hypocrites - I note his family got no compensation or recognition for what Turing was put through, but then that wasn't in the budget was it?

    1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Technically

      A cautionary tale on key distribution and predictable plaintext, to be sure.

      Also: "they'll never be able to..."

      Spoiler: Yes, they will.

    2. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

      Re: Technically

      Tunny was the 5-level Lorenz stuff, for which Colossus was built. Turing was not part of that effort.

      And yes, Turing got a sh*t deal. Governments being what they are...

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: Technically

        Yes, tunny was not the u boat system. Kriegsmarine use enigma with extra real,

        Nazi high command used Lorenz.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm also impressed with El Reg's time machine!

    It appears there were very impressive things developed then, such as the time machine used to view this article that is to be written in the future. I mean, how else would we see an article dated 26 June 2019 at 19:00?

    Alternatively, good of you not to succumb to the slavery of an NTP synchronised clock on your PC like pretty much 99.99% of the rest of the planet.


    Joking aside, I'm not certain I'll make it but I'll definitely try.

  7. K

    Nooooo ...

    The 1st El Reg lecture that I've gone "Now that is something I want to attend"... and it's the bloody week my wife booked us on a holiday :(

    El Reg - Could you do a repeat in July please?

  8. Marty McFly Silver badge

    Cryptologists were left out of the war credits....

    My recently deceased great-aunt was part of the corp of women who did decryption of Japanese transmissions during WWII. The family never knew until her eulogy was read. Loyalty was of greater value over ability in the selection of the women.

    And although the war was ended, they were forbidden to ever discuss the work they did. She, quite literally, took it to her grave. I will wager her efforts in the war did more to secure a victory than the efforts of her siblings who were on the battlefields.

    Yeah, Turing isn't the only "Invisible Hero" of that war.

    1. swm

      Re: Cryptologists were left out of the war credits....

      Almost all of the photos of early computers showed women programming or operating the machines. Most were not given the credit they deserved.

  9. Nifty Silver badge

    Slight sidetrack, but Ian McEwans Machines Like Me the alt. universe story where Alan Turing lived into the 80s is still available to download on iPlayer radio for another couple of weeks.

    In that world Britain lost the Falklands but the Internet was like now but 40 years sooner. Presumably due to Turing's benign influence on the entire promotion of IT.

    The real story is a bit like C4s 'Humans' and a good one at that.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sexism, Snobbery and Following Orders

    Britain fell sadly short of completely laying down its stupidities with regard to sexism and snobbery during WWII, it just dialled them down a little and very few, even among the great, emerge from that time with spotless reputations. That we weren't invaded and subjugated was a very close run thing.

    Gordon Welchman was initially treated shabbily on arrival at Bletchley, but still produced work of vital importance. Yet he indulged in terrible snobbery towards Tommy Flowers, an inspired electronic engineer who similarly made vital contributions, simply because Flowers was from a lower class background and was educated through years of night school rather than Oxbridge.

    Stanley Spencer, War Artist, "followed orders" very well indeed when the large numbers of women welders in the photographs he took and had taken of shipyard work vanished almost entirely, reappearing in his subsequent paintings as men.

    Dowding, whose masterful strategy enabled the RAF to win the Battle of Britain by the skin of its teeth was treated with the utmost shabbiness, never properly recognised for his achievement and replaced with self serving careerists.

    All the while, millions died to avert a great evil.

    Great evil abounds today, yet few are even willing to recognise it, or speak truthfully about it. Many who comment seem happier to score a point against their opponent by telling a lie than a truth.

  11. dalethorn

    We didn't learn the lesson of history. Enigma had a non-randomness, remember? And now with idiots in IS demanding "at least one upper and lower case" and a numeric and a punctuation etc., you're forced to use a non-random password. Don't be as stupid as they are - wake up to weak passwords passed to you as "strong" - they're NOT.

  12. Willy Wonka

    Thanks for teasing me with the promise of interesting content I will never be able to access.

  13. sloblocks

    A great night - thanks Reg + TNMOC

    Many thanks to the volunteers - a really enjoyably evening of beer + engineering.

    Now I must try and finish my worksheet...

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