Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/02/10/bletchley_park_colossus/

Virtual Nazi-code-cracking Colossus in fundraising appeal

Sponsor pixels for new £150k exhibition at Bletchley Park

By John Leyden

Posted in Security, 10th February 2012 12:43 GMT

The National Museum of Computing (TNMOC) has turned to a tried-and-tested fundraising method to establish a home for the rebuilt Colossus computer at Bletchley Park.

Individuals and firms are invited to buy up pixels of an online picture of the wartime code-breaking machine - at 10 pence per dot with a minimum spend of £10 - pretty much like Alex Tew's million-dollar homepage effort.

The museum's curators need the cash to open an exhibition featuring the Colossus in the historic Block H, on the spot where Colossus No 9 stood during the Second World War and where the rebuild took place.

Colossus was the world's first electronic programmable computer, and was used to crack encrypted messages between Hitler and his generals.

Housing the rebuild in the same location as its wartime predecessor will be "a fitting tribute to the wartime code-breakers and an inspiration to future generations of computer scientists and engineers", according to the museum.

Details of how to sponsor a valve on the virtual Colossus can be found here. Payment is collected by PayPal. The National Museum of Computing hopes to raise £150,000 via the scheme.

More information on the Colossus rebuild project, which was led by engineer Tony Sale, can be found here. Details of the technology were kept secret until 1975. The rebuild project started in the 1990s and took more than ten years.

Tim Reynolds, acting chairman of TNMOC, said: "Tony Sale's tribute to the wartime code-breakers is awe-inspiring and we are seeking resources to present the rebuilt Colossus so that generations to come will be able to understand its significance. The death of Tony Sale last year was a tragic loss to us all, but fortunately he had already started to plan the new gallery with a TNMOC team.

"TNMOC, an independent charity, has received no lottery funding and must pay substantial rent and other overheads. Despite this and working with very modest budgets, we have opened two major new galleries - featuring the Tunny machine and BBC Domesday Touchtable - over the past nine months and have two more including Colossus planned for 2012. We therefore welcome all contributions from individuals and company sponsors to help us present a gallery that will do justice to Colossus and enthral visitors for years to come."

The Colossus room will be closed from early March for the construction of a new gallery, which will house "exciting interactive and informative displays" as well as, hopefully, the rebuilt Colossus. ®