Note: All stuff posted here, is for the educational purpose only. If anyone misuses the info, the management of the OFF Club can not be held responsible and shall stand withdrawn from any damages which may arise as a result of mishandling of the info; hence it is advised to use them at your own risks and cost. Thanks for your patience and cooperation.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Colossus loses code-cracking race

Colossus in operation during wartime, PA
Bletchley's code-breaking effort shortened the war by many months

An amateur cryptographer has beaten Colossus in a code-cracking challenge set up to mark the end of a project to rebuild the pioneering computer.

The competition saw Colossus return to code-cracking duties for the first time in more than 60 years.

Radio problems meant delays in getting Colossus deciphering three messages that were transmitted from Germany.

But before it got going Bonn-based amateur Joachim Schuth revealed he had managed to read one of the messages.

"He has written a suite of software specifically for the challenge," said Andy Clark, one of the founders of the Trust for the National Museum of Computing at Bletchley Park where Colossus is sited.

News of Mr Schuth's success reached Bletchley Park on Thursday night, said Mr Clark.

The re-built Colossus

The target messages, enciphered with a Lorenz S42 machine as used by the German high command, were transmitted by a team of radio enthusiasts in Paderborn, Germany.

However, radio reception problems throughout the day on Thursday meant that the British code-cracking team did not get a full copy of the enciphered messages until 1700 GMT.

"For that all credit must go to Milton Keynes Amateur Radio Society," said Mr Clark. "They worked tirelessly yesterday."

A copy of the ciphertext in the messages was loaded onto the re-built Colossus at 0855 GMT on Friday morning, said Mr Clark.

"The wheels are spinning right now," said Mr Clark, adding that the team hopes to have the message cracked by midday on Friday.

At the same time as Colossus is cranking through the messages a separate team will use modern PC technology to read the scrambled messages.

hand plugs in telephone cable on rebuilt Colossus

The ciphertext from the messages will also be placed on the museum's website so amateur code-crackers who do not have access to radio can have a go at breaking the signals.

Colossus is widely recognised as being one of the first recognisably modern computers in that it could be programmed. It was the size of a small lorry and used more than 2,000 valves.

Tony Sale led the 14-year Colossus re-build project and it took so long because all 10 Colossus machines were broken up after the war in a bid to keep their workings secret. When he started the re-build all Mr Sale had to work with were a few photographs of the machine.

In its heyday Colossus could break messages in a matter of hours and, said Mr Sale, proved its worth time and time again by revealing the details of Germany's battle plans.

"It was extremely important in the build up to D-Day," said Mr Sale. "It revealed troop movements, the state of supplies, state of ammunition, numbers of dead soldiers - vitally important information for the whole of the second part of the war."

Close-up of Colossus, Bletchley Park

This, and the other information revealed by the code-cracking effort at Bletchley, helped to shorten the war by at least 18 months, said Mr Sale.

The Cipher Challenge is also being used to mark the start of a major fund-raising drive for the fledgling National Museum of Computing. The museum will be based at Bletchley and Colossus will form the centre-piece of its exhibits.

Colossus has a place in the history of computing not just because of the techniques used in its construction.

Many of those that helped build it, in particular Tommy Flowers, went on to do work that directly led to the computers in use today.

The museum said it needed to raise about £6m to safeguard the future of the historic computers it has collected.

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my regular Email Updates!

0 Feed Back:

Add to Technorati Favorites Best Free Domains ll About Orkut. Orkut JavaScripts,Tips & Tricks, Tricks Related To Computers, News, Entertainment And Plenty More. Loads of stuff would be sufficient to fill your appetite

Thanks For Visiting The Site | ۩ Orkut Fun n' Fan Club™ Owned By Orkut Offcial Community