First electronic computer Colossus celebrates its 70th anniversary

Yesterday, the creators and folks involved with Colossus, the world’s first electronic computer, gathered at the National Museum of Computing to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the machine.

Colossus, which was designed by Tommy Flowers, was first up and running at Bletchley Park on 5 February 1944, and it was used by code crackers to decipher German communications.

The giant valve-powered computer was the size of your average room, standing around 7 foot tall, and by the end of the Second World War some ten of these machines were busy cranking away at code cracking duties.

Yesterday’s anniversary celebrations took place at the National Museum of Computing, where a fully working replica of Colossus is housed. It brought together those involved in the building of Colossus, along with ex-operators, to witness a re-enactment of the entire code breaking process, from initial interception of a message to the decrypted results, ZDNet reported.

Tim Reynolds, Chair of The National Museum of Computing, commented: “The working Colossus rebuilt by the late Tony Sale and his team provides a mesmerising start to our story of the history of computing at The National Museum of Computing. It fascinates people of all ages and we see on a daily basis the inspiration that it provides to school groups who visit the museum.”