How I learned to stop worrying and love the Bombe: Machine Research and Development and Bletchley Park

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Abstract

The Bombe machine was a key device in the cryptanalysis of the ciphers created by the machine system widely employed by the Axis powers during the Second World War – Enigma. The Bombe machine was initially designed in Britain by scientists in primary cryptanalysis agency, the Government Code and Cypher School at Bletchley Park. The machines were then mass produced by the British Tabulating Machine Company in Britain, and by the National Cash Register Company in the United States of America. The design, development and mass production of the machine was a fraught process dependent on support from scientists and bureaucrats within the agency, but more importantly the agency was only moved to mechanise, and subsequently professionalise, this key function in its operations when met with a series of major crises. The result was an unplanned ad hoc process of designing, building and operating the machines. This was representative of the wider process of mechanisation within Bletchley Park, one of the most important and renowned technological centres to emerge in Britain during the Second World War.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)200-222
Number of pages23
JournalHistory of Science
Volume52
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 17 Apr 2014

Keywords

  • Bletchley Park
  • Bombe
  • Mechanisation
  • Enigma
  • Cryptanalysis
  • Intelligence

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