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Synchronicity, Bletchley Park, History Unfolding

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Colossus valves Bletchley Park

It was in the 1920’s that the Swiss psychologist Carl Gustav Jung first described the the terminology of synchronicity, saying that when two or more events occur together or are linked when there is no apparent reason for them to be linked at that time, things come together by what seems chance, this is synchronicity.

It was early one Sunday morning, the British clock system had been adjusted back to GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) that morning, that meant that my clock showed 7:30am, but my body said it was 8:30am, and I had nothing meaningful to do and wide awake.
As a Radio Ham (G8YJQ), I had heard of the RSGB (Radio Society of Great Britain) National Radio Centre based in Bletchley Park, the war-time home of secret code breaking and the birthplace of the first modern computer. I decided to visit the National Radio Centre.
I often like to revisit the basics, to start again to review, as if I knew nothing about a subject, as it reinforces the foundations of expertise, to pick-up knowledge missed along the way of learning a subject.
I joined a group of visitors, as toured the radio exhibition very quickly, leaving me in their wake as I read the documentation written about the displays, which they skipped over. The exhibition was quite small and a little disappointing to me, so I had finished my visit very quickly, even after a long conversation with a guide and another radio ham.
I decided to visit the rest of the Bletchley Park facility again as I had travelled a long way, to see if the model aircraft of the Italian aircraft (Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 Sparviero) I had donated, had been used in their exhibition, and no it had not been used, to revisit, to reinforce and relearn what I knew about the site and its’ history.
I joined another small group of people of many nationalities, and we met in the main house to hear the initial opening lecture about the code breakers, setting the scene for the tour. Even though I had heard this talk before, it had been with another guide, and he gave us information new to me. As we wondered around the site, new information was being imparted, especially about the decoding Bombe machines, I had never understood how they worked, I had a concept, but now after the guides talk, I was beginning to understand.
That reminded me of something I had learnt when I first started in the computer field in 1963, sometimes you don’t need to know how something works to use it.
We eventually visited the National Museum of Computing housed in buildings of part of Bletchley Park.
Here the guide explained about Tunny code breaking machines, or as it is also known, the German Lorenz SZ42 cipher-machines.
Two new “Ah Ha” moments came to me, that the cipher machines Enigma and the Lorenz used by the German’s to encrypt messages ran side by side in the Second World War, being two separate systems or methods of transmission of a message, one being morse code the other being teleprinter.
The second “Ah Ha” moment came as I realised that I had heard and read about Lorenz in two different contexts, one was for the equipment to encode messages I was viewing, and the other was for the beams of radio waves the German aircraft to fly along and used to locate targets to bomb in the UK during the war. Both the encrypting machine and the beams were made by the German manufacturer Lorenz, but people had when speaking about the systems, had truncated or missed off what Lorenz model they were talking about, just like saying it was a Ford, but what model Ford, was it a car, was it a transit van?
As we walked around listening and learning, a couple in our group were talking about papers and artefacts that had been left to them by the husband’s now deceased mother and father, and that some of the letters were now making sense, they now realised that they had been written to and by people who had worked in Bletchley Park. These people at Bletchley Park in the Second World War had been sworn to secrecy at to what they were working on, what they were doing or even where they were, many taking their secrets with them to their graves many decades later. I now regret not asking my now departed Uncle Frank about his work in the 2nd World War, because as I research more, I believe he may have had had some dealing with the Bletchley Code Breakers.
Also, the couple told me that they had in their possession, left by the father, many old thermionic valves and parts used by the Post Office in the UK who used to run the telephone service.
Passing on from the Tunny Gallery, we passed into the Colossus Gallery, showing a reconstructed decoding machine, the worlds first digital semi-programmable computer, designed and built by Tommy Flowers, a telephone engineer, who took standard telephone switching gear, thermionic valves and other bits and pieces, to build this worlds first computer of it’s type.
As we listened to our guide about how the British Government, after the finish of the 2nd World War, did not want the secret be known by other powers and especially the Russians of Colossus, and apart from two machines which were sent to the Secret Service’s headquarters at GCHQ, all other machines were destroyed, along with paperwork, designs and drawings.
Colossus Bletchley Park

Colossus Bletchley Park

It was only a few years ago that a group of enthusiasts led by Tony Sale, who gathered information from photographs, people who worked on the Colossus, and those you built and maintained them, that rebuilt what we can see today, a working Colossus which can decipher and work as the originals did, and does so for visitors to see today.

Colossus valves Bletchley Park

Colossus valves Bletchley Park

 

When our guide had finished his talk, the couple’s eyes were alive, as they had some parts, letters, paperwork, documents and some knowledge from the father, who they now realised had worked with Tommy Flowers on the original Colossus, and I urged them to go and speak to one of the guides who I knew had worked on the rebuild and was now sitting in a small office near to the working computer.
I think at first reluctantly the guide listened to them, but he became interested, as here was new knowledge being delivered, and so off they went to another area of the exhibition, only to return with a framed photograph of Tommy Flowers, and in that photograph was the father.
I was witnessing the discovery of new knowledge, the recovery of history.
Leaving Bletchley Park, and a almost two hour journey, I arrived home and settled down to a wonderful hot chilli con carne meal I had made, and switched on the TV. To my surprise the BBC were showing a Timewatch series, “Codebreakers: Bletchley Park’s Lost Heroes“, the story of code breaking and the Colossus, reinforcing what I had learned not a few hours earlier.
Synchronicity. If I had not been bored and decided to rekindle my Ham Radio interests, to visit the National Radio Centre, which happened to be at Bletchley Park, and if I had not continued to do another tour of the park, I would not have had those “Ah Ha” moments, seen many more things, and learnt so much more, meet the couple who had a direct connection to Colossus through the father and Tommy Flowers, then see the TV program.

Rotary Club of Kingston upon Thames

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It was back at the start of the 1980’s that I was invited to join the evening Rotary Club of Peterborough in the UK, at that time being the youngest member. It was an experience that would stay with me ever since, the friendship, the support, being able to in my small way, contribute to the community both locally and internationally.

My membership was short lived, as I had finished my task of computerising the toy manufacturer Peter Pan Playthings, and was offered the opportunity to work with Texas Instruments distributor in Saudi Arabia, as Software Manager, looking after customers who had purchased a TI computer, creating solutions to their individual needs. It was a job which would see me in Saudi Arabia for over five years.

Unfortunately, Rotary Club, and any such organisation was banned in The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, as was amateur radio (ham radio call sign G8YJQ) and other such hobbies or pastimes.

It was recently, that I became aware once again of Rotary, and in conversation with a member of the Kingston upon Thames Rotary Club, was invited to attend their meetings, and as time went on was invited to join once again.

Today was my induction into the Rotary Club at the Thursday lunch time meeting.

Although my work as a trainer, presenter, coach, takes me to many countries, being away from the UK, I am sure I can contribute to the club, to fellow Rotary members both in the Kingston Rotary Club and with members worldwide, including Malaysia.

A new chapter opens in my life, which I am looking forward to with eager anticipation.

Phillip Holt's Induction into Kingston Rotary Club wearing SHH

Wearing with pride the SHH and the Rotary Club Badges
after being inducted into the Rotary Club of Kingston upon Thames
by the Club President Peter Thompson

Oh, to Richard Bacon of the BBC‘s Radio Five Live late night show, and his Special Half Hour club (SHH), I can now wear with pride both badges.

Previous SHH Entries
Even more on the Special Half Hour Club of BBC Radio 5 Live
Special Half Hour, Radio 5 Live
More on the Special Half Hour badge of Radio Five Live
All Entries

Another Gadget

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HK500 Phone

I love gadgets and electronics.

After years of working for computer manufacturers, and being an Amateur Radio (Radio Ham) enthusiast, (G8YJQ), electronics and gadgets fasinates me.
If it is new, I want it, I want to see how it works, has it any benefit to me.
I may try it once, understand how it works, and then never use the gadget again. But, my curiosity has been satisfied.
Visiting many countries as I do, staying in contact is a must.
With the internet, as long as a WiFi connection (free) is available I can be in contact with others.
With mobile phones, covering nearly every square inch of our planet and beyond, we can stay in touch, sometimes at a high cost, sometimes with a bit of out-of-the-box thinking, cheap calls can be obtained.
One way to get cheap mobile calls is to get a local sim card of the country I am visiting, a local telephone number.
But that means I have to carry two telephones, one for my British mobile, and one for the local country I am visiting.
More holes in my trouser pockets.
Problem solved now.
I came across a mobile phone, the HKV HK5000 Dual Sim Mobile.

HK500 Phone

The HK5000 allows me to have two sim cards in the same hand unit, and it will operate both, so I can make and receive a phone call from my British telephone number 07973178602, plus my Italian, Turkish, Malaysian or whichever one I wish to insert.
Now I only need to carry one phone.
Forget about the new iPhones, Blackberry, HTC, PDA’s smartphones, that do things I personally rarely use, I now have a phone that is practical, two phones in one, that is to say, I can make and receive phone calls easy, does not take up space, and I do not have to remember to charge two phones.
Sadly, it only lasted six months, so I reverted back to iPhones. How time flies, it is now 2016 and I wrote the above article in 2008, how things change. Oh Poo Poo, and I still buy gadgets..