The First Skunkworks

“A Great science fiction detective story” – Ian Watson, author of The Universal Machine

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Days to Centenary: 9

Holy Cow! Just 9 days to the Turing Centenary!

Just when you think that there can’t possibly be a video about Alan Turing and the codebreaking at Bletchley Park during World War II that comes at things from a fresh perspective, the folks putting together the June issue of IEEE Computer release this little gem to accompany its Computing Conversations column.

While it doesn’t contain any genuinely new material, this presentation has a slightly different focus than others on the same topic, with the core being a detailed (but still clear and accessible) examination of exactly how the Enigma encoding machine and the Bombe and Colossus decoding devices actually worked.

In the video, Joel Greenberg (@JoelGreenberg), a Canadian mathematician and senior guide at Bletchley Park, refers to the codebreaking project as “the first skunkworks,” a term used for initiatives run by loosely structured teams involved in radical innovation (it’s also a trademark of Lockheed Martin, referring to its Advanced Development Programs).

And a second substantial video, which summarizes much of the article, helps set the efforts at Bletchley Park in context, both within Turing’s time and from a retrospective, historical point of view.

If you have an interest in Alan Turing, codes and ciphers, World War II history, or any combination thereof, these two videos will be well worth their combined 40 minute running time.

The Lockheed Martin Skunk Works logo

The Lockheed Martin Skunk Works logo


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