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Our day trip to Bletchley Park from Birmingham was one of our favorite days of our vacation in England. Rick and I both have degrees in computer science. When we were first learning about the history of computers, the secrets of the code-breaking at Bletchley Park were recently revealed. Our professors got such a kick out of a teaching us this “new” history, how geeks saved the world during World War II. As we entered Bletchley Park, we felt like we walked on sacred ground.

Bletchley Park

The Mansion at Bletchley Park

The experience of touring Bletchley included these fun interactive guides with more information, videos, and recordings.

Bletchley Park

Multimedia Guide and map for Bletchley Park

There are lots of code-breaking stories to tell at Bletchley Park, but the most famous is Enigma — the encryption machine that produced a code that the world thought was unbreakable. But, in fact, Alan Turing and others at Bletchley Park broke it — a major turning point in the war. That’s the story that is told in the recently released film, The Imitation Game.

An Enigma machine on display at Bletchley Park

An Enigma machine

It took a machine to break the code produced by a machine. All of the code-breaking machines were demolished after the war, but volunteers rebuilt a working machine so that visitors can watch all the disks move. This machine is considered an immediate pre-cursor to the modern computer.

Bletchley Park

The machine that Turing built to break the Enigma codes

I reviewed a couple of books related to Bletchley Park last week, using the release of The Imitation Game as an excuse.

Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson is a novel for people who think code-breaking is cool. I happened to read the part that was set in Bletchley Park on the day that we were there.

The Lost World of Bletchley Park was the second Bletchley book by Sinclair McKay that I read in 2014. Neither quite gave me what my inner computer programmer wanted, but both are great for a fun, low-tech approach to what went on at Bletchley Park during World War II.

We enjoyed seeing The Imitation Game on Christmas Day — especially the places and machines we recognized from our visit to Bletchley Park (they filmed on site). Rick objected to some of the simplification and poetic license, but I was impressed that they managed a dramatic linear plot from such a complicated story. If you like history, crossword puzzles, or Benedict Cumberbatch, I recommend this one!

Have you seen The Imitation Game? Do you think codes and code-breaking are cool?


Bletchley Park #BriFri #Photos — 10 Comments

  1. Very interesting to see this! I can totally see how your husband would have wanted more on the tech side from the movie (I was actually expecting a bit more), but as someone who had no clue about the story before I saw the movie, I thought it was really easy to follow. I fell down a Wiki wormhole once I got home, though, so I’m definitely interested in The Lost World of Bletchley Park.

  2. I haven’t seen The Imitation Game yet (it only came out here a couple of days ago) but I’m looking forward to it. The whole history of that time is fascinating 🙂

  3. I just started reading the Lost World of Bletchley Park and am enjoying it, from your recommendation I might add! Once finished I can’t wait to see The Imitation Game. It is all so fascinating and historical.

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  5. Very cool photos and info on your tour there. I’m very envious and would like to visit Bletchley as well. Thanks for posting this. I loved the true story and the movie, fascinating stuff!

  6. Went to see The Imitation Game about 2 weeks ago and really liked it. I also noticed Allen Leech was in the movie (plays Branson on Downton). Since seeing the film, I have become a little more interested in learning about it. And as for making it more simple than it actually was, it happens in a lot of movies where there is a complicated storyline.

  7. Pingback: Codes and Puzzles #BletchleyPark #BriFri | Joy's Book Blog

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