The Enigma breaking machine “Bombe” had a considerable impact on the course of the Second World War. A recently started crowdfunding campaign aims to create a new Bombe display area in Bletchley Park.
Some readers might know this machine from the movie The Imitation Game: the Bombe, also known as the Turing Bombe or the Turing-Welshman Bombe. The Bombe was not a weapon, but a data processing machine. It was used in World War II to break Enigma messages.
One of the inventors of the Bombe was mathematician Alan Turing. In the film, he was played by Benedict Cumberbatch. (Source: SquareOne Entertainment)
In their codebreaking factory in Bletchley Park near London, the British operated over 200 copies of the Bombe. After the war, all of them were dismantled. Starting in the 1990s, a number of enthusiasts built a faithful Bombe replica, which is now on display in the Bletchley Park Museum.
A Bombe simulated 36 Enigmas at the same time. It could test almost 1,700 Enigma settings per minute. (Source: Ted Coles)
Many Bombe operators were young women. Here, a veteran operates the Bombe replica to show how her work looked like during the Second World War.
This image was taken at a veterans meeting in Bletchley Park in 2009. As can be seen, many women took part.
Here’s another exhibit from the Bletchley Park Museum: a Bombe mock-up, which was created for the movie Enigma (2001).
For the movie The Imitation Game, another Bombe mock-up was used. I don’t know what has happened to this one. The film gives the impression that there was only one Bombe, though in fact, there were over 200 copies. (Source: SquareOne Entertainment)
Today, Dermot Turing, the nephew of Alan Turing, and Debbie Desch, the daughter of Joseph Desch, are popular keynote speakers. I have met both of them several times at crypto history conferences. (Source: Jim Oram)
The National Museum of Computing has recently started a crowdfunding project aiming to create a new display area for the Bombe replica. The target is to raise £50,000. I have written this article to support this project. So, please check the project website and consider donating some money. The deadline is March 13th, 2018. I wish this project good luck!
Further reading: Who can decipher this encrypted telex from a famous battleship?