Britain’s wasted legacy… #history

ColossusComputerColossus Computer – Bletchley Park

Excerpt from The PC Pioneers

On this day in 1946 the ENIAC computer was launched, supplanting British invention

The war-time effort at Bletchley Park had advanced many of the principles and principals that could have developed a strong British computer industry.

But in a bizarre decision post-WWII Winston Churchill wanted the Bletchley Colossi to remain secret and thus decided in 1945 that they should be destroyed.  The valves were redeployed around telephone exchanges and the hardware was broken into small pieces.

This happened to all but two that were relocated to the GCHQ (Government Communications Headquarters) at Cheltenham in Gloucestershire.  In fact one was still being used until the 1960s; it was used to decode Russian messages.

Churchill’s decision to keep the Colossus computer secret meant the fruits of the war effort could not be directly applied to peacetime commercial use.

It also meant the USA gained all the kudos and recognition for its electronic digital computer, the ENIAC (electronic numerical integrator and computer).  This was not operational until 1946 but by then the UK had forsaken its head start.

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