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Tony Sale, Rebuilder of WWII Colossus Computer and Savior of Bletchley Park, Dies

September 9, 2011 

Anthony Sale, a former Chief Scientific Officer at Britain's MI5 and a founder of the Bletchley Park Trust, died in late August 2011. He was 80-years old. 

In the postwar World War II years, Sale had campaigned to save the wartime code-breaking center at Bletchley Park, and masterminded behind the rebuilding of Colossus, the world's first operational computer. 

Operational during WWII, the Colossus Computer revolutionized codebreaking, reducing the time it took to break the Nazis' Lorenz messages from weeks to hours.

In 1994, a team led by Tony Sale (right) began a reconstruction of a Colossus at Bletchley Park. Here, in 2006, Sale supervises the breaking of an enciphered message with the completed machine.

Building Colossus*

In 1993, Sale began building a replica of Colossus, a job deemed nearly impossible without adequate documentation. However, Sale interviewed surviving engineers, including chief designer Tommy Flowers. Thanks to the Freedom of Information Act, Sale acquired technical descriptions of Colossus by Americans who had worked at Bletchley Park. 

In 2007, Sale claimed to have a working copy that was 90% operational, saying, "It's been a long, long job and a labor of love." 

Sale also lectured on wartime codebreaking in the UK, Europe, and the U.S., and was a technical adviser on the film Enigma (2001). 

Source: The Independent

*The above image features Sale (right) supervising the breaking of an enciphered message with the completed Colossus machine in 2006. Image via Wikipedia.


Start Date: 
Friday, September 9, 2011