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Published on Sep 17, 2009
Captain Jerry Roberts visits the Google London office to speak about his time as a code breaker at Bletchley Park during World War 2. This talk took place as part of the Speakers@Google series, on the 24th August 2009.
Captain Roberts was a senior member of the elite team assigned to unscramble messages enciphered on the 'Tunny' Lorenz SZ40/42 machines - new 12-wheel code-making machines designed especially to encrypt high-level communications between German Army H.Q. and the top generals in the field on all fronts, including a number of messages signed by Hitler himself. Tunny was a much more complex machine than the better-known, 3-wheeled Enigma machines. Tunny was the Germans top-level cipher system and its workings were only declassified in 2000.
During his time at Bletchley Park, Captain Roberts came into contact with several brilliant men. He says, in the great successes of Bletchley Park, three men played key roles. Alan Turing (who possibly saved Britain by breaking naval Enigma in 1941), Bill Tutte (who broke the Tunny cipher-system, helping to shorten the war, as Gen. Eisenhower said: Bletchley decrypts shorten the war by at least two years) and Tommy Flowers (who designed and built Colossus, the first electronic computer ever, the Founding Father of todays computer world).