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Bletchley Park Facing Financial Ruin

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the save-turing's-hut dept.

Encryption 234

biscuitfever11 writes "Bletchley Park, the home of Station X, Britain's secret code-breaking base during World War II, is barely scraping by financially, as shown in these images compiled by ZDNet this week. The site has undergone major redevelopment as an act of remembrance for the Allied efforts to break the German Enigma code, but now its future is clouded — among others, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation turned them down for financial assistance (since it doesn't have to do with the Internet). Its director estimates that Bletchley Park's funds will be exhausted in three years. Hungry land developers are circling. This is an insightful look at what's happened to Bletchley Park these days and the pain it's going through."

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Why would they expect Gates Foundation funding? (5, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 6 years ago | (#23431960)

These aren't starving kids in Africa, for crying out loud. It's just a museum. And, however important the historical significance of the site, it's hardly fair to make a snide remark about not getting funding from a foundation that has MUCH more important issues to deal with. If anything, they should be getting funding from the British government (and obviously THEY don't think it's so important).

I know this is /., and there is many a Bill-basher here who would probably take ANY opportunity to blast him, but COME ON.

Re:Why would they expect Gates Foundation funding? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23432036)

Yea! Let the Brits destroy their heritage like we do in the US. Tear it down and put a parking lot on it, that's what I say.

Re:Why would they expect Gates Foundation funding? (5, Insightful)

berwiki (989827) | more than 6 years ago | (#23432624)

ugh, what-ever.
every single inch of soil has some history to it.
If you really think saving this place is worth time and effort, please donate some of your money.

My guess is not many people feel like you do.

Re:Why would they expect Gates Foundation funding? (1)

gfxguy (98788) | more than 6 years ago | (#23432948)

I agree. If it was worth it to people, they'd be paying to go visit it and it'd be making enough money to stay in business.

That's really all there is to it. It's not even just not worth it to the British government, but obviously not to the British people, either.

Re:Why would they expect Gates Foundation funding? (1)

berwiki (989827) | more than 6 years ago | (#23432642)

i should have finished that post with: "otherwise it wouldn't be in this situation."

Re:Why would they expect Gates Foundation funding? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23433180)

It has been documented and archived many places and times. We can recreate it in a holodeck simulation later :)

The MEMORY is far more valuable than any "item" or material thing. Typical of a materialistic person to not understand that.

Re:Why would they expect Gates Foundation funding? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23432062)

Calm down fanboy. They don't have a got at Gates, merely that they applied for charity and were turned down. Cunts like you talking shit all the time, ruin online life. Piss off to digg you faggot.

Re:Why would they expect Gates Foundation funding? (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 6 years ago | (#23432140)

I hope your irony is intentional.

Re:Why would they expect Gates Foundation funding? (1)

dyefade (735994) | more than 6 years ago | (#23432770)

I too hope it is, but even if it isn't, his point is not diminished.

Re:Why would they expect Gates Foundation funding? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23433000)

Considering that the submitter *did* have a go at Gates with his "since it doesn't have to do with the internet" jab, which has fuck-all to do with what the Gates foundation supports (AIDS? Africa? Not exactly the internet, you fucktard.), his point is not only diminished, but wholely absent, incorrect, and fucking embarrassingly stupid.

Re:Why would they expect Gates Foundation funding? (3, Informative)

BrettJB (64947) | more than 6 years ago | (#23433264)

Slow down there, tiger! FTFA:

The Bletchley Park Trust receives no external funding. It has been deemed ineligible for funding by the National Lottery, and turned down by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation because the Microsoft founder will only fund internet-based technology projects.
The submitted was merely paraphrasing what was in the article, not necessarily having a "go" at Uncle Bill. I actually appreciated the bit of clarification (I was curious as to why one would think a foundation that seems more concerned with disease and poverty would want to save what amounts to a museum...)

Re:Why would they expect Gates Foundation funding? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23432096)

Kids in Africa are starving for reasons the Gates Foundation can't fix.

That written, I view the demise of Bletchley Park the same way I look at copyrights: Doing something great a long time ago shouldn't guarantee you a lifetime of financial benefits. Even if you saved the world.

Great you broke codes but a long time has passed since then. Figure out how to pay your own way.

Re:Why would they expect Gates Foundation funding? (1)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 6 years ago | (#23432412)

Dude, you didn't have to post AC; unlike most AC posts, your argument was quite coherent and could use some up-moderation.

/P

Re:Why would they expect Gates Foundation funding? (4, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 6 years ago | (#23432734)

That written, I view the demise of Bletchley Park the same way I look at copyrights: Doing something great a long time ago shouldn't guarantee you a lifetime of financial benefits

Your comparing efforts to save an important part of our history to copyrights?

Figure out how to pay your own way.

Am I the only one that sees value in preserving important parts of our history for future generations?

Re:Why would they expect Gates Foundation funding? (4, Insightful)

Telvin_3d (855514) | more than 6 years ago | (#23432918)

But what does preserving the history mean? In a case like this, the history is extremely well documented. Not only that, but the value of the site itself lies solely in the fact that it IS well documented. The building and grounds are not inherently historically valuable.

When you talk about preserving a site like this it's not the same way you would talk about preserving an area of Greek or Roman ruins. It's not like they are going to excavate it at a later date and discover unknown relics.

Without the knowledge of what has happened there, the site is meaningless. And if you have the documentation the site becomes more about the emotional and symbolic attachment than historical value.

And eventually it gets down to the fact that if we faithfully preserved every place that anything interesting had ever happened at it wouldn't be long before our entire society would be static.

Re:Why would they expect Gates Foundation funding? (4, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 6 years ago | (#23433008)

And eventually it gets down to the fact that if we faithfully preserved every place that anything interesting had ever happened at it wouldn't be long before our entire society would be static.

I would agree with that, but you have to weigh the "anything interesting" part against the bigger picture. In this case, the "anything interesting" was an Allied effort that saved thousands of lives and probably shortened the war by a year. I tend to think that's worth preserving and that the value to society is greater then allowing a developer to build a strip mall or cookie-cutter condos over it.

Re:Why would they expect Gates Foundation funding? (4, Insightful)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 6 years ago | (#23433392)

Here's the thing, though: The site was not important to their work. They could have done this in a trailer somewhere. I'd bet that they could sell the land and then set up a big enough endowment to save one lot for a small museum to display the equipment and such.

I think people want to save this site because it happens to be a grand old mansion... if this thing were a blah standard-issue 1940s military brick building people would be so sentimental.

Re:Why would they expect Gates Foundation funding? (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 6 years ago | (#23433096)

How important is it though really? I mean, we're all a bunch of geeks, and we've all read Cryptonomicon, so we all know what Bletchley Park is. But do you think most people know or even care about it? I say, take the artifacts that are salvagable, and put them in some other museum. Canada has a Museum of War, I'm sure the UK has something similar [tourist-in...ion-uk.com] . Putting them there, or somewhere with more traffic, would probably allow many more people to find out about the role played by cryptographers in the war. A lot more so than trying to save something that so few people visit that they can't afford to keep it open.

Re:Why would they expect Gates Foundation funding? (1)

robably (1044462) | more than 6 years ago | (#23433148)

Am I the only one that sees value in preserving important parts of our history for future generations?
No, actually I think you're in the majority, but that still doesn't mean you're right. I understand the need to record our past, but not to preserve it at the expense of being able to do something useful with it now.

I think the reason many people feel a need to museumify old buildings is because much of what we build now is ugly and inhuman. That is the problem that needs to be fixed, and then let the rise and fall of beautiful buildings continue without sectioning off parts of our increasingly cramped world as museums.

Re:Why would they expect Gates Foundation funding? (1)

UberDude (70424) | more than 6 years ago | (#23433052)

Kids in Africa are starving for reasons the Gates Foundation can't fix.


I imagine $38 billion is enough for a small invasion. Take control, run it as a colony for say 25 years, then transfer power back to the people when there's a stable system in place. It's not ideal, but at least nobody starves.

Re:Why would they expect Gates Foundation funding? (2, Funny)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 6 years ago | (#23433098)

I imagine $38 billion is enough for a small invasion. Take control, run it as a colony for say 25 years, then transfer power back to the people when there's a stable system in place. It's not ideal, but at least nobody starves.

What could possibly go wrong [wikipedia.org] with that idea?

Re:Why would they expect Gates Foundation funding? (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 6 years ago | (#23433232)

But unlike copyrights, Bletchley park doesn't want to preserve itself for enrichments of its owners, but because those who are looking after it consider it to be important to preserve it for the world.

If copyrighted works ceased to exist the moment copyright expired, I'd be all in favour of perpetual copyrights.

Re:Why would they expect Gates Foundation funding? (1, Informative)

RattFink (93631) | more than 6 years ago | (#23432190)

These aren't starving kids in Africa, for crying out loud. It's just a museum.
How this is bashing? A person who it known to donate a lot of money to computing museums doesn't bail this one out. It says more about the urgency of the situation then some sort of Gates bash.

Re:Why would they expect Gates Foundation funding? (4, Interesting)

interstellar_donkey (200782) | more than 6 years ago | (#23432204)

Yeah. My initial question here was "Why doesn't the government step in?" What, does England have so much history that it doesn't see the value of protecting a historic site that's from something as new as the last century?

Here in the states, we've got the NSA cryptologic museum [nsa.gov] , where among other things you can tool around on an old Enigma from WWII. Can't imagine why Britain wouldn't want something like it.

Re:Why would they expect Gates Foundation funding? (4, Interesting)

caluml (551744) | more than 6 years ago | (#23432508)

What, does England have so much history that it doesn't see the value of protecting a historic site that's from something as new as the last century?
We do have an awful lot of history. Near where I grew up is a 13th century castle, and a little further a copy of the Magna Carta from 1215. The town itself was founded in 888. Yes, without a 1 in front. Throw in lots of roman stuff, and things I've never even been told of, and yeah, something from 1945 might not be thought to be really that *wow*.

Re:Why would they expect Gates Foundation funding? (0, Flamebait)

BytePusher (209961) | more than 6 years ago | (#23432590)

Maybe it has something to do with the British government looking more and more like the German government just before WW2 and would like their citizens to forget... Oh, would you like a fresh cup of surveillance with your papers anyone?

On another note if Godwin's law were a law, this entire story would not exist. Thank God it's not a law social or civil.

Re:Why would they expect Gates Foundation funding? (0, Flamebait)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 6 years ago | (#23432888)

Maybe it has something to do with the British government looking more and more like the German government just before WW2 and would like their citizens to forget... Oh, would you like a fresh cup of surveillance with your papers anyone?

Yes, because there is state sanctioned violence against Jews [ushmm.org] going on in the British Isles right now. There's also state sanctioned violence against the political opposition [wikipedia.org] too. And let's not forget the Enabling Act [wikipedia.org] that Gordon Brown is trying to push through Parliament at this very moment.

On another note if Godwin's law were a law, this entire story would not exist

Godwin's law doesn't exist because of stories about WW2. Godwin's law exists because of idiots like you that make stupid bombastic comparisons to Nazi Germany that are completely divorced from any sense of reality or perspective and serve only to incite passions and flamewars.

Re:Why would they expect Gates Foundation funding? (1)

Jellybob (597204) | more than 6 years ago | (#23433106)

To claim that the British government is turning Nazi would be a little extreme, but I'm starting to doubt that the top levels are trying to help anybody but themselves.

There's no state sanctioned violence against Jews, but reading about how to make explosives is enough to get you taken into custody without charge. I got stop by police in Heathrow, and asked for identification, while waiting for a plane.

According to the piece of paper I was handed telling me about it, they need due cause to stop you. Or they can just claim it's related to terroism, and do whatever they like.

And then of course you've got Gordan Brown, who was "promised" the job of prime minister for several years... that's not exactly my idea of democracy.

Re:Why would they expect Gates Foundation funding? (1)

BytePusher (209961) | more than 6 years ago | (#23433240)

First, Godwin's law doesn't exist. My and your ability to reply proves that. I think it's a silly and dangerous idea to forbid talking about WWII, because we're all of the same nature and should heed , process and discuss the horrific warnings of history.

Second, the German aggression towards Jews was simply one manifestation of one culture or people group oppressing another. It's not bombastic to believe genocide and oppression might happen again. The reality is, Britain is trying to control their people with electronic surveillance just as Germans did with informants. It's simply a word of caution and a call to remember and to reason.

Re:Why would they expect Gates Foundation funding? (4, Insightful)

CmdrGravy (645153) | more than 6 years ago | (#23432630)

The British Government decided quite a while ago to get rid of any responsibility it had for looking after any of our historic buildings. Instead they set up the National Lottery to directly tax poor and stupid people with a remit to help good causes such as this one.

Even before that though most of these things are maintained ( or not ) by organisations such as the National Trust or museums and charitable organisations. I can't think of a single thing such as this building which is directly supported by the government, it's just something that in the UK has never been up to the government but is left to private individuals or charitable organisations to deal with. In general the government through it's local councils have no interest at all in maintaining any of our more historic buildings being quite happy instead to let them stand around empty for decades until they have rotted sufficiently to be knocked down and redeveloped. All most all of Birminghams historic Edwardian public baths are currently suffering from this treatment.

There was recently a BBC programme which allowed viewers to vote on which one of a dozen or so worthy historic buildings was given money for maintenance whilst letting the rest continue to fall into disrepair. Britains long range Vulcan bomber is being preserved and renovated by a private group of enthusiasts and BA are refusing to sell Concorde to a similar group of enthusiasts for preservation so in general here in the UK what is preserved and what is not is more or less a random lottery with many things falling by the wayside and being crushed underfoot.

Re:Why would they expect Gates Foundation funding? (4, Informative)

l-ascorbic (200822) | more than 6 years ago | (#23432776)

While its funding is not great, English Heritage protects hundreds of historic buildings and other heritage sites. They're a government-funded quango, attached to the DCMS. There are equivalents in Wales and Scotland.

Re:Why would they expect Gates Foundation funding? (4, Insightful)

l-ascorbic (200822) | more than 6 years ago | (#23432730)

If the government won't spare the money to protect Stonehenge of all places, it's unsurprising that other stuff is neglected too.

Re:Why would they expect Gates Foundation funding? (4, Interesting)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 6 years ago | (#23432788)

What, does England have so much history that it doesn't see the value of protecting a historic site that's from something as new as the last century?

Yep, that's pretty much it. There's only so much funding to go around, and there are thousands and thousands of sites of historical interest competing for it. Bletchley isn't really such a strong competitor; the site itself is of no architectural interest, it's nothing to look at. All it ever was was a bunch of army huts. There are ancient castles and manors falling down which are much more photogenic and attract more tourists.

To me Bletchley is of more intellectual than historic interest: it's where Turing did his work founding the discipline of computer science. As such, I wonder if the best way forward would be for the site to become a technology park, or a research centre attached perhaps to the OU? That would preserve what was important there - the intellectual tradition - even if it meant doing away with most of the WW2-era buildings.

Re:Why would they expect Gates Foundation funding? (1, Interesting)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 6 years ago | (#23432386)

And, however important the historical significance of the site, it's hardly fair to make a snide remark about not getting funding from a foundation that has MUCH more important issues to deal with.

Indeed... there's no angle here where Bill can trade charity for Windows sales to the government as far as I can tell... little wonder he turned 'em down. Before you think this is 'Bill-bashing', take a look at Mexico as a huge example of how Mssr. Gates does marketshare-pushing in developing countries.

If anything, they should be getting funding from the British government (and obviously THEY don't think it's so important).

Now here, I agree. If it were important to Parliament, they would've obviously done something by now. As it is, Colossus could be moved to the appropriate national museum and given its own place of honor. This would likely give it a wider audience and a more convenient viewing.

/P

A too well kept secret and nothing to see. (-1, Flamebait)

sjwest (948274) | more than 6 years ago | (#23432552)

Milton Keynes is an ugly town, and since people have heard of Turing why bother visiting Milton Keynes. If you read up on ww2 radar, quite a lot of the development of those was done in Rural Wales (safe from bombers) I see no point in visiting Bletchley Park (thats Milton Keynes) to visit a shed.

Re:Why would they expect Gates Foundation funding? (1)

theTrueMikeBrown (1109161) | more than 6 years ago | (#23432574)

I agree that this is not Bill's responsibility to fix, however I think that they should get funding from somewhere.
Turing worked there for crying out loud. He was practically the father of the CAPTCHA (or something like that).
We at slashdot need to make a stand. We should take up a collection for Bletchley park.
I will start. I am prepared to match any contributions made to help Bletchley park.
Did I mention that I am the president of Nigeria, and that I have money that I need to get out of the country?

Re:Why would they expect Gates Foundation funding? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23432626)

Go be a worthless waste of protein somewhere else, troll.

Re:Why would they expect Gates Foundation funding? (1)

BodhiCat (925309) | more than 6 years ago | (#23432710)

Yes, its an enigma to me why they don't preserve this historic site. I guess they want to build some ultra-modern skyscrapers. Hopefully things are turning around for the museum.

Re:Why would they expect Gates Foundation funding? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23433222)

To donate to the Bletchley Park Trust, please contact the Trust's director, Simon Greenish, or his personal assistant, Sue May, on +44 (0)1908 640404.

Upstairs boarder (4, Interesting)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 6 years ago | (#23432028)

When I's a kid growing up in Kansas, we used t' rent out the upper room to boarders at a reasonable price. This helpt us git our bills paid and gave us poor farmers some company on those long summer nights. Twasn't like we were usin' the upstairs room.

Except for hubris, I don't see the real benefit in holding on to all that real estate if all they are going to do is slowly bleed to death. If they put the land to work for them, by renting it out as office space, they could probably make enough to keep a smaller museum running.

But what do I know about those English? All I know is that when I go into the bathroom, I'm American. When I come out, I'm American again.

Re:Upstairs boarder (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23432070)

when I go into the bathroom, I'm American.

You should see a doctor about that.

Re:Upstairs boarder (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23432188)

And when you're in the bathroom? European.

Re:Upstairs boarder (0, Redundant)

Vectronic (1221470) | more than 6 years ago | (#23432326)

Nah, when he's in the bathroom, he's taking a shit, pissing, or picking his nose, which is universal and doesnt matter what country you are from...

Re:Upstairs boarder (0, Redundant)

WinPimp2K (301497) | more than 6 years ago | (#23432390)

whoosh!
whoosh!
whoosh!

Re:Upstairs boarder (1)

WatersOfOblivion (1215490) | more than 6 years ago | (#23432206)

I had a similar idea: Keep one (or two) building -the most historically significant of them- as a museum, and rent out/sell the rest with the stipulation that the actual buildings must remain intact. Remodeling's ok, but no tearing down anything. The site as a whole should be preserved, even if only part is an actual museum.

Re:Upstairs boarder (1)

Captain Hook (923766) | more than 6 years ago | (#23432504)

The thing about Bletchley Park is that it was really the system as a whole that was responsible for the code breaking not a single piece of equipment or a room

The staff there were isolated from the surrounding villages to maintain secrecy and so the whole site really was integral to the process from a "The life of a code breaker" sort of story. It really wasn't a single room filled with a bunch a smart people who could have been moved at the drop of a hat.

Think I'll have a visit to Bletchley Park, if only to give some money to them

Re:Upstairs boarder (2, Informative)

hcdejong (561314) | more than 6 years ago | (#23432456)

They're already doing that. Some of the estate has been sold off. Parts of the main building (the old mansion) can be hired for conferences etc. if I remember correctly.
There's no hubris there, at least none that I could detect when I visited the place a few years ago.

Why does this sound like a BSD is dying troll? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23432030)

Does Netcraft confirm it?

Barely scraping by? (5, Funny)

RandoX (828285) | more than 6 years ago | (#23432044)

Even the "run down" pictures look better than my working conditions.

The real problem (0, Troll)

Pig Hogger (10379) | more than 6 years ago | (#23432060)

This is the problem with anglo-saxon, bourgeois societies such as the UK and the US.

Everything has a price tag. Everything costs something, and everyone should get something hard for everything he does.

No wonder that those countries economies are circling down the drain: long-term viability is sacrificed to the short-term gain.

It's no wonder that they so wantonly ignore their histories!!!!

Re:The real problem (4, Interesting)

apodyopsis (1048476) | more than 6 years ago | (#23432168)

we wantonly ignore our history because we actually have lots and lots of it, mate.

when you are tripping over history with every other step you take then you'll get pretty relaxed about it as well.

having said that, it make me weep when a properly constructed 150+ year old house get ripped down for a cramped development of flats made from bricks, spit and twigs. it is precisely because of the sheer amount of historical relevance and interest that naturally some things get sacrificed, and once its gone then its gone for ever.

face it, as a attraction Bletchley has to compete with central london only 25 miles away - and when you put it like that it will always lose.

Misunderstanding (2, Insightful)

InvisblePinkUnicorn (1126837) | more than 6 years ago | (#23432180)

"Everything has a price tag. Everything costs something, and everyone should get something hard for everything he does."

This only makes sense if you ignore why we use money. Money is simply an exchange of productivity. I work, get money, and then use that money to buy others' productivity. Saying "everything has a price tag" simply means that people are only willing to offer up their productivity if they get someone else's in return. That's the sign of a properly functioning market. If you want to donate to these causes, feel free, but don't demand the government forcibly take a larger portion of everyone's productivity (in the form of increased taxes) because you have a pet idea and you want easy access to money.

Re:Misunderstanding (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 6 years ago | (#23432218)

a pet idea

Oh man, that gives me a great product idea. Thanks!

Re:The real problem (1)

sqldr (838964) | more than 6 years ago | (#23432350)

Too right.. presently, the post office, a national service, is shutting down branches (and the communities surrounding them) because it's apparently "losing" 2 million a year.

As a national service, it was never supposed to earn money in the first place. it doesn't "lose" 2 million, it COSTS 2 million. There is a difference that the British government and its advisors can't comprehend.

Re:The real problem (1)

aproposofwhat (1019098) | more than 6 years ago | (#23432830)

If Adam Crozier didn't insist on taking huge bonuses for running an underperforming operation (along with the rest of the monkeys on the board), the Post Office would actually turn a profit.

I say, I say , I say ... (0, Offtopic)

ThirdPrize (938147) | more than 6 years ago | (#23432094)

My dog has no nose.

Re:I say, I say , I say ... (1)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 6 years ago | (#23432230)

How does he smell?

Re:I say, I say , I say ... (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 6 years ago | (#23432256)

Terrible!

Re:I say, I say , I say ... (1)

ThirdPrize (938147) | more than 6 years ago | (#23432298)

Boom, boom!

The wars over so go home already (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23432106)

It's been nearly 50 years already so let it go !! Blimey !!

The British did not break Enigma (5, Informative)

jotok (728554) | more than 6 years ago | (#23432116)

Enigma was broken by a Polish cryptographer named Marian Rejewski [wikipedia.org] . The Poles knew they were going to be overrun by the Germans and disclosed their work to the French and British.

Bletchley Park is where they automated the process of intercepting, decrypting, translating, and analyzing Axis communications. I can't think of any large-scale SIGINT operation that preceded Bletchley, and it was certainly vital to the war effort, but credit where it's due, etc.

Re:The British did not break Enigma (5, Informative)

maxume (22995) | more than 6 years ago | (#23432200)

Great article on the history of Enigma:

http://www.nsa.gov/publications/publi00016.cfm [nsa.gov]

Re:The British did not break Enigma (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23432364)

The Alan Turing Biography shows a good sight into what went on here. It's a painful read at times (more notably the childhood years) but there's certainly some interesting stuff in there.

Re:The British did not break Enigma (1)

laejoh (648921) | more than 6 years ago | (#23432270)

I can't think of any large-scale SIGINT operation that preceded Bletchley,

Nah, me neither, as the POSIX standard came after WWII!

Re:The British did not break Enigma (4, Informative)

N Monkey (313423) | more than 6 years ago | (#23432372)

Enigma was broken by a Polish cryptographer named Marian Rejewski [wikipedia.org] .
IIRC, enigma was initially broken as you say, but that technique relied on the German army's flawed protocol of sending two encrypted copies of the same 3 letters (that formed the session key) at the start of each transmission. They soon realised that this was a security weakness and so Bletchley park had to develop new techniques. The German navy used a much tougher system again.

Re:The British did not break Enigma (2, Insightful)

91degrees (207121) | more than 6 years ago | (#23432540)

I think the most significant act of the Polish cryptographers was proving that the code could be broken. Without that, it's possible that the British government would have directed the resources elsewhere.

Re:The British did not break Enigma (1)

chakmol (88099) | more than 6 years ago | (#23432382)

Enigma was broken by a Polish cryptographer named Marian Rejewski. The Poles knew they were going to be overrun by the Germans and disclosed their work to the French and British.

Bletchley Park is where they automated the process of intercepting, decrypting, translating, and analyzing Axis communications. I can't think of any large-scale SIGINT operation that preceded Bletchley, and it was certainly vital to the war effort, but credit where it's due, etc.


Buried deep within the article, there's some credit there:
http://resources.zdnet.co.uk/articles/imagegallery/0,1000002003,39415278-20,00.htm [zdnet.co.uk]

I was glad to see you mention Marian Rejewski or I wouldn't have known to scan the article for it.

Re:The British did not break Enigma (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23432502)

the polish broke an early version of enigma, they're work was a basis for later decyption of naval enigma (after the fourth wheel was added)

Naval enigma was cracked in cases where the germans accidentally weakened the cipher by sending predictable messages with their short weather code system or using predictable openings to messages. These codes changed daily so the cryptanalysis had to be repeated, cracking a predictable message so the codes could be used on other messages

Then there was the 'first' computer - the coloussus developed at bletchley to brute force enigma

And there was also the invention of traffic analysis, where intelligence was derived by watching the propagation of messages through the german communication network even though the content of the messages was unknown

Given these contributions to our history surely it's worth preserving !

Re:The British did not break Enigma (1)

jrumney (197329) | more than 6 years ago | (#23432664)

I think there is a replica of Colossus in the Science Museum in London, or maybe I'm confusing it with Babbage's differencing engine as it's about 8 years since I visited. There's no good reason why the equipment has to be preserved in an out of the way place in such a narrow interest facility as Bletchley Park.

Re:The British did not break Enigma (1)

Jellybob (597204) | more than 6 years ago | (#23433288)

That was indeed the difference engine at the Science Museum.

Which reminds me, I should head down there some evening. I've not been since I moved to London.

Re:The British did not break Enigma (1)

jopsen (885607) | more than 6 years ago | (#23432628)

As far as I remember the Polish only broke an early version of the enigma... But I guess it's a long and complex story... But yes, the Polish guys doesn't always get the credit they deserve...

Re:The British did not break Enigma (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23432696)

Yes, the Polish broke initial Enigma designs, passed through the French, on to the British. That said, the British did keep the effort alive and continued to crack modifications to Enigma (extra rotors, reflector disk, etc.).

The British did a hell of a lot more than automate the process.

Re:The British did not break Enigma (1)

arkhan_jg (618674) | more than 6 years ago | (#23432858)

Enigma was indeed broken by the poles in 1932 through the use of german sloppy procedures ( giving known cribs), and their work caused the inital breaks of enigma - full credit to them. The automation was british, as was the day-to-day testing of the cribs and proposed solutions from the bombes during the war. The naval introduction of a 4th rotor to enigma caused a shut-out of bletchley for 10 months before they found another way 'in' (the short weather reports were sent using only three rotors, thus allowing the existing bombes to work on the cribs from the weather and short signal books)

Enigma was the field unit cipher system.

Lorenz was the german headquarters and fixed station cipher system for teleprinters, with high-level communications. That was broken by the use of Colossus, the first programmable digital, electronic, computing device in december 1943, again at Bletchley.

The poles did the initial crucial work on enigma, Bletchley broke many new versions of engima and lorenz and carried the load of allied decryption for years, with the americans stepping in near the end of the war with a much bigger budget and faster machines.

However you slice it, the intel work at Bletchley was crucial for the war effort - it's often estimated to have shortened the war by at least two years, and saved many allied ships.

That the British government appears happy to let it and the rebuilt equipment fade away is disgusting.

Re:The British did not break Enigma (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23432962)

Bletchley cracked several other codes, such as the collective Fish set, and also re-cracked them as the German OKW changed settings and procedures.

To say they 'automated' it is to say they made the very first efforts to do so - much of the work was still pen-and-paper exercises with cribs and fragments. Colossus, for example, was only to automate the setting of chi and phi wheel settings of the German equipment.

"Allied efforts to break the German Enigma code" isn't a claim that Britain was solely responsible for breaking Enigma. But you will find that many Allied cryptographers and mathematicians - including Poles - worked at Bletchley.

TFOAE

Save Bletchley? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23432152)

This is odd timing for me, I'm planning a trip to England and Italy at the beginning of 2010. When asked what I wanted to see in England all I could come up with is the working difference engine (I can't remember what museum it's in off the top of my head) and Bletchley Park.

This is something that I think could be saved by community donations. savebletchly.org is still available.

But then again I'm a little surprised that savemarsrovers.org still isn't taken.

I'm not voulenteering for either of these because I have zero experience in non-profits and just don't have the time.

Re:Save Bletchley? (1)

_Shad0w_ (127912) | more than 6 years ago | (#23432312)

The Science Museum.

Re:Save Bletchley? (1)

Curmudgeonlyoldbloke (850482) | more than 6 years ago | (#23433004)

savebletchly.org is still available.
What about the correct spelling?

Lottery funding (3, Interesting)

kernowyon (1257174) | more than 6 years ago | (#23432196)

Ok, so I can (sort of) understand the Gates Foundation not wishing to fund this, but the UK National Lottery turned it down too!
For the benefit of those not in the UK, the National Lottery is where you buy a ticket for £1 and choose six numbers. If the numbers you pick come up - then you win a load of cash.
This Lottery was supposed to raise money for what are deemed "Good Causes". These Good Causes are chosen by some committee who seem to have a strange idea with regard to what constitutes a "good cause". Running an elitist venue such as the Royal Opera House and maybe your clientele is dwindling because your prices are bloody ridiculous? Lottery funding to the rescue! There are plenty of examples of this "Old Boy" network, where obscure or unpopular elitist "causes" are funded, whilst small local projects - or indeed projects of National Historical value, such as Bletchley Park, are turned down.
Only a very small percentage of the takings from the Lottery actually makes its way to the causes - the vast majority goes to the company which runs the Lottery. That is one of my biggest complaints about it - Richard Branson has offered on at least two occasions to run the Lottery and to make it a non-profit organisation, but has been turned down on both occasions, despite having the backing of most of the UK!
I am not familiar with how Bletchley is currently funded - presumably by entrance fees? - but I would expect the UK Government to help out, rather than see this go under.

Re:Lottery funding (3, Funny)

trongey (21550) | more than 6 years ago | (#23432240)

For the benefit of those not in the UK, the National Lottery is where you buy a ticket for £1 and choose six numbers. If the numbers you pick come up - then you win a load of cash...
Apparently, you don't even have to buy the ticket. I get notified at least once a week that I've won the UK National Lottery. I just haven't gotten around to responding to those emails yet to claim my cash.

Re:Lottery funding (4, Funny)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 6 years ago | (#23432498)

For the benefit of those not in the UK, the National Lottery is where you buy a ticket for £1 and choose six numbers. If the numbers you pick come up - then you win a load of cash.

We have two organizations like this in the US:

The first is called Powerball - runs in many (not all states), and does almost the same thing... only costs a buck and a hope. The profits are divided among participating states and put towards public works projects (e.g. roads, schools, parks...)

The other one is called NASDAQ, though Lord only knows where the profits end up.

/P

Re:Lottery funding (1)

l-ascorbic (200822) | more than 6 years ago | (#23432844)

Well, actually Camelot takes far less than is given to the "good causes". But the point about Camelot being shitty still stands.

Re:Lottery funding (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23433258)

After reading that the National Lottery turned them down I am NEVER buying a ticket again! They can give billions to the London 2012 Olympic cause but nothing to this. Fuck you National Lottery!

A symbol of Freedom is biting the dust, (1, Troll)

pcfixup4ua (1263816) | more than 6 years ago | (#23432198)

One guy named Andrew Meridith posted as a reply there

I guess President Brown et cronies won't be chipping in either, as the excellent Bletchley Park Museum is a reminder of the miracles performed there during the war to defend the freedoms they're now systematically stomping all over.
I think it is not suprising that as we descend into fascism, that the symbols of freedom are decaying.

Re:A symbol of Freedom is biting the dust, (1)

Huntr (951770) | more than 6 years ago | (#23432868)

That is an excellent observation. I wish I had mod points to give you right now.

If you read TFA (4, Informative)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 6 years ago | (#23432292)

Make sure you go through the pictures as well, each one has a long and interesting caption.

Who cares ? (2, Interesting)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 6 years ago | (#23432306)

It is not some unique work of art or architecture. What was invented there (computer science) is what is really important and it is very alive in a lot of places today. The place where it all happened is just a footnote in history (and as some other posters will probably explain, Bletchley Park was only an important step in the coputer science history but is included in a continuity)

Re:Who cares ? (2, Insightful)

Peter Simpson (112887) | more than 6 years ago | (#23433016)

Bletchley should be preserved, because so much that is important to technology today happened within those walls. Alan Turing worked there. The German domination of the North Atlantic was broken there.

It's hard for us in the US to imagine what the Brits went through during the war. Bletchley, along with the Battle of Britain, was one of their big successes on the home front.

It's all well and good to read about history, but there's something more gripping about a visit to where history was made.

"Hungry land developers are circling." (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23432358)

The developers being referred to in the article are from before WW2, not a current issue !

Re:"Hungry land developers are circling." (3, Informative)

Jonah Hex (651948) | more than 6 years ago | (#23433038)

From page 6:

Milton Keynes Council declared the site a conservation area in February 1992 and the landowners â" the government's land agency and BT â" withdrew all planning applications. Seven years later, former Bletchley Park Trust director Christine Large landed a deal with certain developers to secure the future of Bletchley Park in the hands of the Trust.

But some developers remain far from dissuaded, recently winning the right to build houses even closer to the wartime facilities. One of the site's exhibition facilities now rests just 10 yards from 21st-century residential properties.

With giant concrete mixers towering over the edge of the Trust's land, Greenish said he feels the remaining green space between Bletchley Park and surrounding surburbia may be lost, though he plans to fight the advance tooth and nail.

Jonah HEX

windows (1)

dwater (72834) | more than 6 years ago | (#23432380)

Perhaps the Gates' would be interested if they ported Windows to the Enigma machine, or, at the very least, develop a Enigma simulator for Windows.

why keep it? (0, Flamebait)

hesaigo999ca (786966) | more than 6 years ago | (#23432396)

We should keep part of it in a museum, but it doesn't really keep up with today's standards of technology, so why keep it.....other then nostalgic reasons, it really is more of a drain then an advantage, are we ever going to use it again to break codes that a clustered computer came up with, no!....break it up , sell the property, keep whatever is necessary in museums, and let bygones be bygones

Re:why keep it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23433452)

Exactly - just like Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in London, for example. It doesn't keep up with today's standards of drama (no special effects, no CGI, and the guy couldn't even spell properly) and sucks up millions in funding from the National Lottery and elsewhere. Are we ever going to need it again to perform new plays? No! That's what Hollywood's for. So let's knock it down and let bygones be bygones.

This is truly sad (5, Informative)

Joshua W Ferguson (1165439) | more than 6 years ago | (#23432440)

The work that the code breakers at Bletchley park did prevented a lot of Ally deaths. When the Germans instituted using the 4-wheel enigma it was impossible to tell what the U-boats were doing out in the Atlantic Ocean. Because of this, supply boats going to the U.K. were being sunk at a high rate, unable to avoid the U-boats, eventually the Brits could have been forced out of the battle (no war supplies == no war). Near the end of 1942 however, some documented daily settings on the new 4-wheel enigma were pulled off of a sunken U-boat in the Mediterranean [codesandciphers.org.uk] allowing german naval deciphers to be broken. Through the man-power, knowledge, and tools available at Bletchley, they could decipher and relay german naval messages (at least in the Atlantic) to high command often within hours of obtaining them. After this, supply ships in the Atlantic were nearly invisible to German U-boats. The monthly settings booklets still had to be retrieved to continue this, but through missions and sometimes luck most of them were captured

That's the WWII side of the story (or at least a very small part of it).

The importance to /. is probably that this war was the first time machines were used to cipher messages, and thus machines had to do the deciphering. To break the regular ground enigma's daily settings scientists at Bletchley designed and manufactured the Colossus(es) [wikipedia.org] . If you ever see this thing run, especially the interior mechanisms, you'll know this was a great unknown leap towards multi-purpose computing machinery. Unfortunately because of U.K. laws, the work and knowledge of those at Bletchley couldn't be released until sometime in the 80's (I think)

Disgusted (4, Insightful)

segedunum (883035) | more than 6 years ago | (#23432478)

As a UK citizen I'm pretty disgusted that a lot of our landmarks and history, as well as worthwhile projects such as revived steam railway lines and 'sense' centres for severely disabled kids with people putting their own volunteer time in, are somehow getting turn down for National Lottery funding (there never is a solid reason given) and billions are being given to the waste of time and money that is the Olympics, largely because of corruption. Who's going to miss a few million going missing here and there? These are schemes and projects that only want a few tens or hundreds of thousands pounds as well.

This is exactly the sort of thing that the National Lottery was supposed to help, and exactly the sort of thing that has been let down.

Never mind (2, Insightful)

Wowsers (1151731) | more than 6 years ago | (#23432494)

Don't worry, the pathetic English hating UK government will spare no effort in wasting £17bn on an 2 week politicians / IOC orgy at the London Olympics games that only the freeloaders want (as opposed to the taxpayers who don't want it).

The things that are important to a nation are discarded, and what gives no benefit gets taxpayers money thrown at it like taxpayers money was going out of fashion.

No exaggeration (5, Insightful)

hcdejong (561314) | more than 6 years ago | (#23432586)

I was there a few years ago. Some of the exhibits were in WW2 vintage barracks (i.e. temporary buildings never meant to stand for more than 5 years, let alone 50. In one hut, there were puddles on the floor. The whole place is falling apart.

As for the argument 'you can always move the exhibits to the Science Museum and sell the land': The exhibits are important, but the accomodations themselves make a point that's worth remembering as well. The most vital project of the entire war was being run out of a collection of sheds, basically. To think that 9000 people worked there on the most advanced technology in existence back then, boggles the mind.

The irony. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23432708)

That the foundation setup by the man once made the richest in the world by the computing industry, declines to fund the museum documenting the crucible of the first programmable computing machines, such as Colossus.

Ingrates.

TFOAE

Misguided (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23432728)

"Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation turned them down for financial assistance (since it doesn't have to do with the Internet)"

So Bill, there's no encryption used on the internet & no Microsoft programmer has ever used it to secure Microsoft systems (albeit poorly)?

Turn it into a Historic bldg or Museum (4, Informative)

failedlogic (627314) | more than 6 years ago | (#23432758)

Now perhaps I'm over-associating the Bletchley work. But I'd have to think, that at the very least, this is a "Good Cause" to support. But I believe a museum designation is long-overdue for Bletchley - or a Heritage building which must be preserved. A statue of some of the fine men and women who worked there might draw people's attention to their efforts. I think its because the people at Bletchley weren't soldiers that they haven't garnered public attention or praise which is why Bletchley remains in the condition its in. Its a sad reality when the artsy fartsies are the first one to always get new museums or funding for museums. And indeed, they're the ones who fight for buildings to be preserved for Historic reasons. Where are they in this case? These would have been the last people to pickup a rifle in WWII.

Members of the public probably don't know or understand (e.g. lack of knowledge of the military) the contributions at Bletchley. I'm not one to usually fight for heritage properties or a museum. But for goodness sake, the worked they did helped destroy countless U-boats (my Canadian grandfather worked on shipping lines crossing the Atlantic risking his neck each time he crossed and so many perished because of the U-Boats), helped gather countless intel on German operations, helped confirm the D-Day operation date and continued to spy on the Germans (just to make sure they weren't up to anything) after WWII. It saved the lives of countless Army, Air and Navy men and women of all nationalities that served in WWII on the European front. And, indirectly, because of this work, it helped put a stop to the Concentration Camps.

Why the hell are they not getting the due respect and attention that they so rightly desire? This is a disgrace. Were I British, I would be fighting for the preservation of this building. I'm not sure that as a Canadian, my words will count for much.

Engima (0)

Jonah Hex (651948) | more than 6 years ago | (#23432984)

Anyone else immediately recognize the Enigma machine from the thumbnail while going through the article? I don't know whether to feel well educated or just old at 36. ;)

Jonah HEX
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