Bombe code-breaking machine, Bletchley Park, Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire
© Louis Berk/Alam
Deciphering an Enigma
These retro rotors helped to change the course of history. This is a Bombe machine, developed by a team including pioneering computer scientist Alan Turing at Bletchley Park, the secret code-breaking centre in Buckinghamshire, during World War Two. It was instrumental in cracking the 'uncrackable' Enigma code, which the Germans used for encrypting war operations messages. The Enigma code was itself generated by a rotor-driven machine that re-scrambled the code each day - so the Bombe mirrored those mechanics to keep up with the changing encryption. Insights the Bombe and other programmable machines provided into the enemy’s military plans helped to speed up the Allies' eventual triumph.
Today Bletchley Park hosts the National Museum of Computing. And thanks to forward-thinking educational efforts, computer science is no longer such an enigma. Schools across the UK will be taking part in the Hour of Code this week, a series of 60-minute coding sessions offered through Code.org, a resource for short coding tutorials with fun themes. It is linked to Computer Science Education Week in the US, an annual event aimed at getting more youngsters to take up this important subject.