Christie's auction and other computer history events

From: Paul Koning <>
Date: Fri Feb 18 16:04:19 2005

>>>>> "der" == der Mouse <> writes:

>> [...] who pretends that the Poles didn't do much and "Enigma was
>> broken at Bletchley Park".

 der> And from what I understand - largely based on Simon Singh's The
 der> Code Book, and nothing I've seen in this thread really disgrees
 der> with it - there is a sense in which that is true. Early Enigma
 der> was broken by the Poles. They simply didn't have the resources
 der> to break the later versions; it was Bletchley Park, Turing in
 der> particular, who picked up the Polish work and extended it to
 der> break the later Enigma.

 der> It's like a R&D effort: to grossly oversimplify, the Poles did
 der> the R, the English did the D, and neither would have been much
 der> use without the other.

I don't think that's really accurate. What the English did is mass
production. By analogy: it's fair to say that Ford invented the
assembly line, but you wouldn't say he invented the car.

The later versions (with one exception) weren't really all that
different from the ones that the Poles first cracked. And tweaking
the solution process once the basic system was understood was nowhere
near as hard a job as the original solution.

So while I wouldn't want to downplay the British contribution, I would
never conceive of saying "broken at Bletchley Park". That simply is
not a valid description of reality.

I think Rejewski's paper may be online. I do have it somewhere
(course notes). It's worth reading; it's reasonably intellegible even
if you're not a specialist. Reading that will give you an
appreciation for what was involved.

Received on Fri Feb 18 2005 - 16:04:19 GMT

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