Q. What did #Turing & #Babbage have in common?

It’s not the easy answers I’m looking for like, both designed computers; Babbage the Analytical Engine and Turing the Pilot ACE. Or that both were mathematicians, or even both were obviously Englishmen.

The answer is… both were wartime codebreakers. Turing is of course celebrated for cracking German Naval Enigma whilst at Bletchley Park during WWII. He’s also less well known for contributing to cracking the much more complex German High Command Lorenz code.
   What you probably didn’t know is that Charles Babbage cracked the Vigenère cipher, which was a form of polyalphabetic substitution cipher (like Enigma) that had been in widespread use since the 16th century. Babbage is reputed to have cracked the cipher as early as 1846, but he didn’t publish his method because the British were soon to be at war with Russian in the Crimea and the Russians were known to use the Vigenère cipher. Thus, as in WWII, the British would be able to read their enemies’ intercepted messages and gain a strategic advantage. All of this history is my book The Universal Machine.

from The Universal Machine http://universal-machine.blogspot.com/2012/06/q-what-did-turing-babbage-have-in.html


About driwatson
I'm a New Zealand author, computer scientist and blogger specialising in Artificial Intelligence. I also have an interest in the history of computing and have just written a popular science book called "The Universal Machine - from the dawn of computing to digital consciousness."

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: