Feeds

Amateur code breaker honoured for defeating Colossus

Bestride this

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

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. ®

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Cops baffled by riddle of CHICKEN who crossed ROAD
'Officers were unable to determine Chicken's intent'
Drunkards warned: If you can't walk in a straight line, don't shop online, you fool!
Put it away boys. Cover them up ladies. Your credit cards, we mean
Yes, but what are your plans if a DRAGON attacks?
Local UK gov outs most ridiculous FoI requests...
Murder accused DIDN'T ask Siri 'how to hide my roommate'
US court hears of cached browser image - not actual request
Why your mum was WRONG about whiffy tattooed people
They're a future source of RENEWABLE ENERGY
Chomp that sausage: Brits just LOVE scoffing a Full Monty
Sales of traditional brekkie foods soar as hungry folk get their mitts greasy
Nuts to your poncey hipster coffees, I want a TESLA ELECTRO-CAFE
Examining the frothy disconnect in indie cafe culture
Ex-Apple man Sam Sung - for it is he - sticks namebadge on eBay
Stump up via tat bazaar, do a good thing for ill kids
Check your Clungene, Irish women warned
Have a quick shufti, you may not be pregnant after all
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.