Colossus: The secrets of Bletchley Park's code-breaking computers

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The American ENIAC is customarily regarded as the first electronic computer. In this fascinating volume, Jack Copeland rewrites the history of computer science, arguing that in reality Colossus--the giant computer built in Bletchley Park by the British secret service during World War II--predates ENIAC by two years. Until very recently, much about the Colossus machine was shrouded in secrecy, largely because the code-breaking algorithms employed during World War II remained in use by the British security services until a short time ago. Copeland has brought together memoirs of veterans of Bletchley Park--the top-secret headquarters of Britain's secret service--and others who draw on the wealth of declassified information to illuminate the crucial role Colossus played during World War II. A must read for anyone curious about code-breaking or World War II espionage, Colossus offers a fascinating insider's account of the world's first giant computer, the great-great-grandfather of the massive computers used today by the CIA and the National Security Agency.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Listed in SciTech Book News

"Reading Colossus, a book about the world's first fully electronic computer that was built during the Second World War to crack the codes of high-level Nazi communications, is like reading a suspenseful spy story! It is entertaining to read and at the same time one learns a lot about the history of cryptography and code breaking secrets, decryption and related technologies. Historical pictures along with many interesting charts make the book indispensable to anyone who reviews or writes about the history of computer technology."--Human-Computer Interaction International News

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199578146
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 4/30/2010
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 480
  • Sales rank: 583,521
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Jack Copeland is a Reader in Philosophy and Director of the Turing Project at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. A contributor to Scientific American, his books include Turing's Machines, Artificial Intelligence, and The Essential Turing.

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Table of Contents

1. A Brief History of Cryptography from Caesar to Bletchley Park, Simon Singh
2. How It Began: Bletchley Park Goes to War, Michael Smith
3. The German Tunny Machine, Jack Copeland
4. Colossus, Codebreaking, and the Digital Age, Stephen Budiansky
5. Machine Against Machine, Jack Copeland
6. D-Day at Bletchley Park, Thomas H. Flowers
7. Intercept!, Jack Copeland
8. Colossus, Thomas H. Flowers
9. Colossus and the Rise of the Modern Computer, Jack Copeland
10. The PC-User's Guide to Colossus, Benjamin Wells
11. Of Men and Machines, Brian Randell
12. The Colossus Rebuild, Tony Sale
13. Mr Newman's Section, Jack Copeland, with Catherine Caughey, Dorothy Du Boisson, Eleanor Ireland, Ken Myers, and Norman Thurlow
14. Max Newman-Mathematician, Codebreaker and Computer Pioneer, William Newman
15. Living with Fish: Breaking Tunny in the Newmanry and the Testery, Peter Hilton
16. From Hut 8 to the Newmanry, Jack Good
17. Codebreaking and Colossus, Donald Michie
18. Major Tester's Section, Jerry Roberts
19. Setter and Breaker, Roy Jenkins
20. An ATS Girl in the Testery, Helen Currie
21. The Testery and the Breaking of Fish, Peter Edgerley
22. Dollis Hill at War, Jack Copeland, with David Bolam, Harry Fensom, Gil Hayward, and Norman Thurlow
23. The British Tunny Machine, Gil Hayward
24. How Colossus was Built and Operated-One of Its Engineers Reveals Its Secrets, Harry Fensom
25. Bletchley Park's Sturgeon-The Fish That Laid No Eggs, Frode Weierud
26. Geheimschreiber Traffic and Swedish Wartime Intelligence, Craig McKay
A1. Timeline: The Breaking of Tunny
A2. The Teleprinter Alphabet, Jack Copeland
A3. The Tunny Addition Square, Jack Copeland
A4. My Work at Bletchley Park, Bill Tutte
A5. The Tiltman Break, Friedrich Bauer
A6. Turingery, Jack Copeland
A7. Dc-Method, Max Newman
A8. Newman's Theorem, Friedrich Bauer
A9. Rectangling, Frank Carter
A10. The Motor Wheels and Limitations, Jack Good, Donald Michie, and Geoffrey Timms
A11. Motorless Tunny, Jack Good and Donald Michie
A12. Origin of the Fish Cypher Machines, Friedrich Bauer

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 23, 2011

    Highly recommended

    Professor Copeland has compiled an excellent book telling the story in both human and technical terms of the building of Colossus and of the extraordinary efforts which resulted in the breaking of the Lorenz cipher, known as Tunny. It is an exciting story, The Germmans thought they had an unbreakable cipher and used it for the highest level communications, including those from Hitler himself to his commanders in the field.
    Some of the chapters may be a little too technicla for the average reader, but there is plenty of material that needs no technical knowledge to understand. The book is well illustrated and tells clearly how the world's first programmable computer was built. This story could not be toild earlier as there was a complete embargo preventing any of the peoople involved in any way from talking about it - even to their spouses.

    As one of the survivors of the team in the "Testery" which was able to break the German Tunny traffic on a daily basis so that top secret German infomartion could be passed to the allied commanders, I am grateful to Professor Copeland for compiling this excellent book. With the help of a number of contributors who were directly involved he tells the story well and it is an excciting story. The books is well illustrated with both photographs and diagrams.

    This story reaklly eeded to be told. Thhe geniuses whose work it describes have never been properly recognized. I am delighted that Professor Copeland has done something to right this situation

    I recommend the book highly.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 10, 2013

    Interesting, but not a page-turner

    I found the overall story compelling. However, the focus of the book was mostly on technical details and the personalities involved. While both were interesting, I was hoping to hear how the allies were able to make use of the information gleaned from the various encryption systems they were able to exploit.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 6, 2013

    WOW... I love MyDeals247 model - they create competition among t

    WOW... I love MyDeals247 model - they create competition among the sellers real-time.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 7, 2011

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