By Nicholas Metropolis
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Additional info for A History of Computing in the Twentieth Century
Lewin was head of the BBC Home Service for many years and has contacts in high places. Incidentally, the BBC has published a book "The Secret War" (Johnson, 1978) which is based on a series of broadcasts with the same title one of which was concerned with cryptanalysis. Another relevant work has been written by R. V. Jones, who was Assistant Director of Research at the Air Ministry (see Jones, 1978). In November 1978, a conference on Ultra was held in Germany and has been reported by Kahn (1979).
The COLOSSI produced quite a bit of heat, and it was once proposed that the operators should be topless. A brief description of COLOSSUS is given in the Public Record Office, which I quote here, with slight modifications. I shall here repeat some of what I said before. Colossus had the following facilities: (a) five-hole punched paper tape input, read at 5000 characters/sec; (b) photoelectric tape readers; (c) clock pulses produced from reading the sprocket holes; (d) bistable valve circuits performing counting, binary arithmetic, and Boolean logical operations; (e) conditional (branching) logic; (f) logic functions preset by a plugboard and toggle switches, or conditionally selected by telephone relays* ; (g) fully automatic operation; (h) electric typewriter output (about 15 characters/sec); (i) about 1500 valves (MARK II had about 2500, I believe); (j) parallel (quintupled) circuitry for additional speed, at least for the MARK II version.
M. in Washington, and it arrived around 11:15 in Baltimore, where you picked it up if you were at Aberdeen. Then if you weren't too tired you might gossip with your Harvard and MIT friends. I suggested to Aiken there that his new machine that was about to be dedicated could put the WPA* tables out of business. Whether or not this had anything to do with it, in 1944 he was delighted to be ordered by an admiral to compute Bessel functions whenever the MARK I was not otherwise occupied. Naturally, he received this command with the greatest satisfaction.
A History of Computing in the Twentieth Century by Nicholas Metropolis