[SIGCIS-Members] Royal Mail issues Colossus stamp

jcortada University of Minnesota jcortada at umn.edu
Fri Feb 20 05:51:57 PST 2015

Brian thanks for sharing this.  For those of us who have been looking at
the history of computing for 30-40 years, the issuance of a stamp
commemorating an historical computer must seem like quite a marker about
how far we have come in recognizing the topic.  Certainly when some of us
started getting interested in the history of computing, we only knew in the
briefest of terms that the British had computing in WWII and, of course,
the more evident ENIAC project underway in the US.  And today we have
movies, stamps, computer museums, prize winning history books, journals--it
is all quite amazing.  It is all now so visible.

I guess now it is the turn of the US Postal Service to issue a stamp?
ENIAC?  PC?  Herman Hollerith?

On Fri, Feb 20, 2015 at 5:59 AM, Brian Randell <
brian.randell at newcastle.ac.uk> wrote:

> Hi:
> The Royal Mail’s own press release about their Colossus stamp is now at
> last available, at:
> http://www.royalmailgroup.com/royal-mail-commemorates-colossus-giant-achievement-code-breaking
> The summary section of its text is as follows:
> >       • Royal Mail has issued a stamp to commemorate Colossus - the
> world’s first electronic, digital and programmable computer.  This is part
> of the Inventive Britain Special Stamps issued on 19 February 2015
> >       • The stamps are on sale now from Royal Mail by phone on 03457 641
> 641 or from www.royalmail.com/inventivebritain and available from 8,000
> Post Offices nationwide
> >       • The Colossus machine was designed and built by General Post
> Office (GPO) employee Tommy Flowers MBE and his team at the GPO Research
> Station in Dollis Hill, north-west London, during the Second World War to
> decipher messages being sent between German High Command
> >       • These messages used a more advanced cipher machine, called
> Lorenz, than those from the Enigma machine that Alan Turing OBE decoded
> using his Bombe machine
> >       • The first Colossus machine was completed in December 1943 and it
> became operational at Bletchley Park in February 1944.  A total of 10
> machines were in use by the end of the war
> >       • Most of the original machines were dismantled after the war, and
> all involved with Colossus were sworn to secrecy under the Official Secrets
> Act.
> >       • Full information was only declassified by the British Government
> in 2000, two years after Flowers’ death in October 1998
> >       • A fully functioning rebuild of Colossus was completed in 2007.
> It is now on display in The National Museum of Computing at Bletchley Park
> >       • The site of the old GPO Research Station was converted into
> flats, and has an access road named Flowers Close in honour of Tommy Flowers
> Cheers
> Brian Randell
> --
> School of Computing Science, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne,
> NE1 7RU, UK
> EMAIL = Brian.Randell at ncl.ac.uk   PHONE = +44 191 208 7923
> FAX = +44 191 208 8232  URL = http://www.cs.ncl.ac.uk/people/brian.randell
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James W. Cortada
Senior Research Fellow
Charles Babbage Institute
University of Minnesota
jcortada at umn.edu
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