[SIGCIS-Members] Royal Mail Postage Stamp commemorating Colossus

Brian Randell brian.randell at newcastle.ac.uk
Sun Feb 1 02:42:54 PST 2015


The Royal Mail has at last revealed details of their plans for a commemorative postage stamp featuring Colossus. I have known of this plan for some time as I was commissioned (in confidence) last year to write a section on Tommy Flowers for the chapter in the next Royal Mail Year Book about the new stamp series. (A rather brief press release by Royal Mail itself indicates that "each of the eight special stamps depict key inventions created by British inventors over the last century: Colossus, World Wide Web, Catseyes, Fibre Optics, Stainless Steel, Carbon Fibre, DNA Sequencing, i-limb" - see http://www.royalmail.com/personal/stamps-collectibles-gifts/look-forward-into-2015.)

The attached picture and text in fact comes from a scanned copy of the February 2015 British Philatelic Bulletin, rather than directly from the Royal Mail., which I received today. I had not seen the design of the stamp before, so only now - to my annoyance - do I find that it describes Colossus as “the first electronic digital computer” - my own text takes care to use the phrase “the first programmable electronic digital computer”.

I have pointed out this problem to the Royal Mail, but have been told that it is too late for it to be corrected - the stamps are to be issued next month. (I have learned that the Royal Mail were given some rather poor advice, so I don’t blame them.)

However I am nevertheless delighted that Colossus is being commemorated by the Royal Mail, and by the growing public recognition especially here in the UK of Tommy Flowers’ great contribution.


Brian Randell

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