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Google helping Bletchley Park Trust to rebuild Block C

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August 12, 2011

Google and the Bletchley Park Trust have announced a fundraising scheme aimed at restoring...

Google and the Bletchley Park Trust have announced a fundraising scheme aimed at restoring Block C, a building used to index every scrap of intelligence gathered and decoded by the Park's codebreakers during World War 2 (Photo: Google)

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Search giant Google has teamed up with the Bletchley Park Trust to kick start a fundraising effort to rebuild the records center known as Block C. A Google-supported garden party was held within the grounds of the famous WW2 decoding center last week to start off the restoration fund, which aims to transform the now derelict building into a visitor and learning center.

It's not the first time Google has joined forces with the Trust to preserve a piece of history. Last year, Google contributed US$100,000 towards an effort to save a collection of scientific material and papers relating to the wartime codebreaking work of Enigma genius Alan Turing, which had been put up for auction. In spite of public donations to the tune of GBP23,000 (US$37,432) also being raised, things looked decidedly hopeless until the National Heritage Memorial Fund stepped in and secured the winning bid. The papers are now safely housed in a special display at Bletchley Park.

Google and the Bletchley Park Trust have teamed up to transform the dilapidated Block C bu...

Now Google is helping to transform a dilapidated building last used in 1984 into a new visitor and learning center for Bletchley Park and the UK's National Museum of Computing, which is housed in H block on the site and is home to Colossus - the world's first electronic programmable computer.

During WW2, personnel at Bletchley Park intercepted coded messages from the German war machine, decoded them and fed the intelligence to the Allied forces. Every scrap of intelligence intercepted and decoded by codebreakers at Bletchley Park was meticulously cataloged, cross-referenced and indexed in a huge punch card setup housed in Block C. At the height of its activity, some two million punch cards per week were used by workers in what Google has described as the "search engine at the heart of Bletchley Park's decryption activity."

It's estimated that the efforts of the Park's 10,000 plus personnel shortened the war by at least two years and saved more than 20 million lives.

The Google-supported garden party was held on August 4 within the grounds of Bletchley Park, and was organized by folks at the search giant like Claudia Baker and Lynette Webb, staff at the Park and computer scientist Dr. Sue Black. Visitors were treated to Pathe news clips from WW2, a special auction, music and speeches galore from the likes of Google's Peter Barron and Bletchley Park WW2 veteran Jean Valentine.

Press and supporters gather for the Google-supported Bletchley Park fundraiser on August 4...

The event raised over GBP10,000 (US$16,281) towards the Block C restoration fund, which is an excellent start, but more funds will be needed before work can begin on its transformation.

About the Author
Paul Ridden While Paul is loath to reveal his age, he will admit to cutting his IT teeth on a TRS-80 (although he won't say which version). An obsessive fascination with computer technology blossomed from hobby into career before the desire for sunnier climes saw him wave a fond farewell to his native Blighty in favor of Bordeaux, France. He's now a dedicated newshound pursuing the latest bleeding edge tech for Gizmag.   All articles by Paul Ridden
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