Ebooks, the internet, computing, and just about everything else in modern digital technology owe their existence in anything like their current form ultimately to Alan Turing. So it’s a significant event when some of his original, undiscovered documents are unearthed – even if they’ve been used as cavity loft insulation. This is what happened in the course of restoration of Bletchley Park, Britain’s codebreaking center where Alan Turing worked during World War 2.

The documents found were reportedly “Banbury sheets,” a type of codebreaking key developed by Turing to help crack the Nazi Enigma code. They were found being used to stuff loft space in Bletchley Park’s Hut 6 – and in fact, this is one of the only ways they could have survived, as other documents of the codebreaking process were destroyed in accordance with security rules. Found in 2013, they were frozen before being cleaned and repaired, and have now gone on show for the first time. Full details of how they were used can be found here, and you can even try out a virtual example, courtesy of Bletchley Park, here.

Incidentally, despite The Imitation Game‘s unsavory implication that Turing might have been pressured into betraying his country because of his homosexuality, Bletchley Park seems fully behind the movie. Now there’s an enigma …


The TeleRead community values your civil and thoughtful comments. We use a cache, so expect a delay. Problems? E-mail newteleread@gmail.com.