The beauty of Bletchley Park’s machines

21 May 2016

The EAI Pace – a ‘desktop computer’ that was manufactured and produced in the early 1960s

Bletchley Park, where the Enigma Code was cracked, is home to a diverse collection of historical computers. See them as they’ve never been seen before.

This week, we reported that OBE honoree Dr Sue Black will be returning to Inspirefest this summer to share the story of how she went about Saving Bletchley Park through the power of social media and community.

At Inspirefest 2016, Black will detail how she campaigned from 2008 to 2011 to save Bletchley Park, and was instrumental in the campaign to secure the Turing papers for the UK, all of which became the subject of her highly-regarded new bestselling book Saving Bletchley Park.

The heritage of Bletchley Park, best known for the pioneering work done there in cracking the Enigma Code during World World II, is wide and varied, and it is home to an amazing array of historical computers.

Docubyte photographed these computers at the National Museum of Computing at Bletchley Park as part of the Guide to Computing, and the images were then retouched by Ink with colourful backgrounds. They featured in Creative Review.

“Featuring such famous machines as the IBM 1401 and Alan Turing’s Pilot ACE, Guide to Computing showcases a minimalist approach to design that precedes even Apple’s contemporary motifs,” Docubyte said.

“What’s more, the combination of photography and retouching techniques has resulted in something wholly unique: the ageing historical objects as photographed by Docubyte have been ‘digitally restored’ and returned to their original form. As a number of these computers predate modern colour photography, Guide to Computing, therefore, showcases them in a never-before-seen context.”


The IBM 729 Magnetic Tape Unit. IBM’s tape mass storage system from the late 1950s through the mid 1960s


The Pilot Ace, one of the first computers built in the UK. Designed by Alan Turing, and built in the early 1950s


The ENDIM 2000 analog computer, manufactured in the former German Democratic Republic


The Meda 42TA, a hybrid computer built in former Czechoslovakia in the early 1970s


The IBM 1401, first produced in 1959


The ICL 7500 series (7501, 7502, 7503, 7561, etc.) workstations developed by the now defunct UK computing company, ICL, during the 1970s


The CDC 6600 was the flagship mainframe supercomputer of the 6000 series of computers manufactured by Control Data Corporation


The HDR75, a small analog hybrid computer that was developed in the former DDR at the Technical University of Dresden


The Harwell Dekatron, an early British relay-based computer created in the 1950s

Inspirefest is Silicon Republic’s international event connecting sci-tech professionals passionate about the future of STEM. Join us again from 30 June to 2 July 2016 for fresh perspectives on leadership, innovation and diversity. Book your tickets now.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years