Feeds

Amateur code breaker honoured for defeating Colossus

Bestride this

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

An amateur cryptographer from Germany who beat the world’s first programmable digital computer Colossus in a code-breaking challenge has been honoured for his achievement.

Joachim Schueth cracked a message sent using the World War II cypher in just 46 seconds using a modern laptop and a program he wrote in ADA to snag the accolade. The code-breaking challenge was set in November to mark the opening of the National Museum of Computing at Bletchley Park. By comparison, a rebuilt version of Colossus took three hours and 35 minutes to break the code.

Schueth received a valve from the Colossus machine at a prize for beating all comers in the challenge at a ceremony in Bletchley Park this week. The codebreaker acknowledged he had an unfair advantage against computer historians who rebuilt Colossus in deciphering a message encoded with a Lorenz S42 machine, which was used by German high command during the war, and transmitted by a team of radio enthusiasts from Paderborn, Germany.

"It was unfair because I was using a modern PC, while Colossus was created more than 60 years ago," Schueth told the BBC. "It really is astonishing and humbling that the world's first programmable digital computer was created in the 1940s."

Tony Sale, who devoted 14 years to the project of rebuilding the WWII forerunner to modern PCs, said: "Joachim really showed how things have advanced from the days of Colossus."

"As well as recapturing the excitement that the Bletchley Park code breakers must have felt, the Cipher Challenge has more importantly highlighted the magnitude of their achievement, their tenacity and their ingenuity," he added.

The recreated Colossus machine is on display at The National Museum of Computing at Bletchley Park, Buckinghamshire. The ten Colossi built during the war are credited with shortening the conflict and saving lives by giving Allied forces a vital intelligence edge on troop movements against Germany from around the time of the Normandy landings until the end of the war. Churchill ordered each of the machines to be disassembled after the war in order to keep their design secret. ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Are you a fat boy? Get to university NOW, you PENNILESS SLACKER
Rotund types paid nearly 20% less than people who didn't eat all the pies
Emma Watson should SHUT UP, all this abuse is HER OWN FAULT
... said an anon coward who we really wish hadn't posted on our website
Japan develops robot CHEERLEADERS which RIDE on BALLS
'Will put smiles on faces worldwide', predicts corporate PR chief
Bruges Booze tubes to pump LOVELY BEER underneath city
Belgian booze pumped from underground
Oz carrier Tiger Air takes terror alerts to new heights
Don't doodle, it might cost you your flight
Amazon: Wish in one hand, Twit in the other – see which one fills first
#AmazonWishList A year's supply of Arran scotch, ta
Let it go, Steve: Ballmer bans iPads from his LA Clippers b-ball team
Can you imagine the scene? 'Hey guys, it's your new owner – WTF is that on your desk?'
Oi, London thief. We KNOW what you're doing - our PRECRIME system warned us
Aye, shipmate, it be just like that Minority Report
prev story

Whitepapers

A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.