Abstract

abstract:

The Bletchley Park codebreaking center sits close to the heart of Britain’s collective sense of historical greatness. Historians view it as a highly successful but largely ad-hoc institutional response to novel cryptographic challenges, depicting both its reliance on elite mathematicians and a large labor force as ruptures with peacetime practice. In contrast, this article suggests that Bletchley Park’s success relied on institutional capabilities established in the prewar British state. It focuses on the celebrated “Colossus” electronic codebreaking devices as one element of a highly successful institutional collaboration between Bletchley Park, where they were used, and the Post Office research station at Dollis Hill, where they were designed and built. Correcting previous accounts, this article shows that this partnership was sponsored at the highest levels of government and supported by managers on both sides.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1097-3729
Print ISSN
0040-165X
Pages
pp. 871-900
Launched on MUSE
2020-09-01
Open Access
No
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