Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Colossus MK2

Colossus MK2

BBC reports, and Slashdot echoes that the project rebuild Colossus MK2 machine responsible for breaking some of the toughest German codes during WWII has been rebuilt by a group of computer enthusiasts.

In celebration of D-Day, "Colossus", one of the earliest electronic code-breaking machines, has been rebuilt after ten years of effort by computer conservationists. Colossus was used to break the Lorenz cipher. This story is being reported by the BBC. Remarkably, the use of parallel processing (five tape channels) and short gate delay time (1.2 microseconds) allows the Colossus to match the speed of a modern PC.

I am not sure about the claim of "speed" of a modern PC. My understanding is that Colossus was a significantly multi-processing machine, optimized specifically for the purpose of breaking codes. Perhaps that means that in some operational aspects it could approach the speed of executing similar tasks on some "modern" PC configurations. Certainly, people behind the creation of code-breaking machines of WWII and its immediate aftermath are underrecognized for their technological achievements and their service towards helping to win the War.


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