The new Bletchley Park guidebook on the Bombe machine which helped break the Enigma cipher has been published. This book replaces the old Demystifying the bombe, which was a companion-piece to the Turing-Welchman Bombe Rebuild Trust machine on view at Bletchley. But in 2018 Bletchley Park opened a completely new exhibition in Hut 11A exclusively dedicated to Enigma code-breaking and the Bombe, and the TWBRT rebuild has found a new home on the Bletchley Park site at the National Museum of Computing, it was time to re-do the guidebook.
The Bombe Breakthrough is not just a second edition but a complete re-write. Like Demystifying, it was written by Dermot Turing but with significant research input from Dr David Kenyon, the Bletchley Park resident research historian. So, in addition to answering the questions ‘what did the Bombes actually do, and how did they do it?’, the new book sets the Bombe project in its context, with completely new sections on the story before Bletchley, the people involved, the outstations and the different species of Bombe machine which were tried out.
The Bombe Breakthrough is a companion volume to the exhibition in Hut 11A, so it is available at Bletchley Park in the shop. It is 96 pages long and lavishly illustrated – but as well as being designed as a simple read it doesn’t compromise on the technical explanation which many visitors feel they need after discovering the story of the Bombes.
Maybe the Bombe, and the early steps in technological processes for a computing task, will set the scene for Kellogg College Oxford’s Bletchley Park Week in early March. Find out more on Kellogg’s Events page where there will also be news of Dermot Turing’s presentation on 6 February – something of a teaser for the Bletchley Park Week and a public lecture by Robert Hannigan CMG on 7 March “Managing Creativity: Does Bletchley Park have lessons for today’s tech companies?”