Colossus rebuild on public display

Photo by JOHN ROBERTSON, 2012.
Photo by JOHN ROBERTSON, 2012.

After five weeks hidden from view, the rebuild of Colossus, the world’s first electronic programmable computer, is again on public display at The National Museum of Computing.

Work is continuing throughout the spring to prepare fascinating multimedia and hands-on display materials for the official re-opening later this year. The public response to The Colossus Gallery fundraising appeal has been exceptional and the Museum is on course to reach its target of £150,000.

In making the Gallery, the room that housed the original Colossus Number 9 in the 1940s and later the Colossus rebuild, has been extended and transformed. Colossus hasn’t moved, but internal walls have been removed, the ceiling replaced and the floor resurfaced. The thousands of annual visitors will now have much more space and for the first time will be able to walk right around the computer with an astonishing heritage.

Work is now underway to create the multi-media and hands-on displays that will tell the story of the creation of the world’s first electronic programmable computer.

They will tell of the incredible achievements of the wartime codebreakers who deciphered the encrypted messages of the German High Command and how Colossus, designed and built by a team led by Tommy Flowers, sped up that process and helped directly in shortening the war by two years and saving countless lives. The new gallery will also tell the remarkable story of how the late Tony Sale and his team used their ingenuity and resourcefulness to rebuild Colossus, a machine that had been kept secret for decades.

Tim Reynolds, Acting Chair of TNMOC, said: “We have reopened on schedule and already the new gallery is looking marvellous – even before the display materials are put in place. It was a daunting task to completely refurbish a room containing such an iconic machine and I warmly congratulate our volunteers and Gallery refurbishment team.

“The response to the Colossus Gallery fundraising appeal has been overwhelming and we are hugely grateful to those who have given already. We still need more funds to complete this multi-faceted tribute and to create a Gallery that will inspire future generations of engineers and computer scientists.”