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Colossus Colossus was designed and built at the Post Office Research Laboratories at Dollis Hill in North London in 1943 by a team led by Dr Tommy Flowers to help Bletchley Park in decoding the intercepted German telegraphic cipher traffic enciphered using the Lorenz SZ42 cipher machine This cipher machine enciphered electrical teleprinter signals which used the international 5-bit Baudot teleprinter code It enciphered the input plain text by adding to it successively two characters before transmission Because this addition was bit-by-bit modulo 2 at the receiving end with the Lorenz machine set to the same start position the same two characters were added again to the received characters revealing the original plain text This scheme had been developed in America by Gilbert Vernam in 1918 Vernam used two tapes of random characters to generate the additional characters With the same tapes at each end set to the same start position this system was unbreakable The Germans decided that the distribution of these key tapes presented too great an operational problem and the Lorenz machine uses a complicated mechanical gearing and cam system to generate a pseudo random sequence with very long period and 1019 complexity They thought this was good enough to ensure unbreakability It wasnt The German high command thought that the Lorenz machine was completely unbreakable and used it for their most secret messages literally from Hitler to his generals and between generals The interception and deciphering of these messages gave Generals Eisenhower and Montgomery vital information prior to and after D Day in 1944 Colossus was the worlds first large electronic valve programmable logic calculator Not just one but ten of them were built and operational in Bletchley Park Colossus found the wheel settings used by the German Lorenz machine operator for a particular message When these had been found which took about two hours they were plugged up on the Tunny machine It
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