A Fitting Tribute to Tommy Flowers

About time

Whilst most people have probably heard of Alan Turing and the work of Bletchley Park in breaking the German codes during WWII it is equally probable that many fewer have heard of Tommy Flowers.

Whilst it was true that Alan Turing provided the theoretical brilliance and was subsequently shabbily treated by the nation, Tommy Flowers was the man that turned theoretical concepts into physical reality, creating the worlds first electronic computer, Colossus.

Colossus, the world’s first electronic computer, had a single purpose: to help decipher the Lorenz-encrypted (Tunny) messages between Hitler and his generals during World War II.


Tommy Flowers spent eleven months designing and building Colossus at the Post Office Research Station, Dollis Hill, in North West London. After a functional test, Colossus Mk 1 was delivered to Bletchley Park in late December 1943 / January 1944, was assembled there by Harry Fensom and Don Horwood , and was working in early February 1944.

Seventy years after the invention of the first programmable computer, BT has unveiled a tribute to computing pioneer Tommy Flowers.

tommy flowers 600x664 A Fitting Tribute to Tommy Flowers


Colossus: Creating a Giant

Inventions That Changed The World (2004 – Jeremy Clarkson) Alan Turing & Tommy Flowers

Read more

Tommy Flowers at Wikipedia

Computing History

The National Museum of Computing

About Think Defence

Think Defence hopes to start sensible conversations about UK defence issues, no agenda or no campaign but there might be one or two posts on containers, bridges and mexeflotes!

3 thoughts on “A Fitting Tribute to Tommy Flowers

  1. Alex

    Flowers was a genius, in a gloriously different way from the rest of the Bletchley Park gang. A self taught, working class tinkerer and inventor, not an academic, an engineer, not a mathematician. Max Newman gave him a copy of Turing’s On Computable Numbers as briefing, but not being a logician he didn’t understand a word. But the combination of Bill Tutte’s statistical method and Flowers’ hardware hacking was a much more operationally relevant and stable solution to FISH than “Turingery” ever was – an industrial process rather than a craft.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>