Colossus - The first large-scale electronic computer – University of Copenhagen

Colossus - The first large-scale electronic computer

Public lecture on Colossus by Jack Copeland, the internationally acclaimed researcher and Alan Turing expert, followed by a social dinner. The event will take place at ENIGMA Museum for Post, Tele og Kommunikation on 22 June 2017.

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Most people know the story of Enigma and how its defeat by the Bletchley Park codebreakers astounded the world. Now, Dansk Datahistorisk Forening and ENIGMA has invited Jack Copeland to tell Bletchley’s success against a later, more advanced German cipher machine that the British codenamed Tunny.

Jack Copeland about his lecture

The story of Enigma and its defeat by the Bletchley Park codebreakers astounded the world. This lecture describes Bletchley’s success against a later, more advanced German cipher machine that the British codenamed Tunny. Broken Tunny messages contained intelligence that changed the course of the war and saved an incalculable number of lives. Colossus was central to the Bletchley attack on Tunny. Thomas H. Flowers and his team of engineers and wiremen built the first Colossus during 1943 in utmost secrecy and at terrific speed. By the end of the war in Europe, there were nine of Flowers' gigantic digital computers working around the clock in Bletchley's Tunny-breaking factory.  


17.00 Welcome
17.10 Lecture by Jack Copeland followed by Q&A
Long table dinner at the Canteen. Social food, wine and beer served by Meyers.


Jack Copeland FRS NZ is Distinguished Professor in Humanities at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand, where he is Director of the Turing Archive for the History of Computing. He is also Honorary Research Professor of Philosophy at the University of Queensland, Australia, and in 2012 was Royden B. Davis Visiting Chair of Interdisciplinary Studies in the Department of Psychology at Georgetown University, Washington DC. His books include The Essential Turing (Oxford University Press), Colossus: The Secrets of Bletchley Park’s Codebreaking Computers (Oxford University Press), Alan Turing’s Electronic Brain (Oxford University Press), Computability: Turing, Gödel, Church, and Beyond (MIT Press), Logic and Reality (Oxford University Press), Turing, Pioneer of the Information Age (Oxford University Press) and Artificial Intelligence(Blackwell); and he has published more than 100 articles on the philosophy and history of computing, and mathematical and philosophical logic.

He is recognised as a leading authority on Turing's work, and in June of 2004, the 50thanniversary of Turing’s death, he delivered the first annual Turing Memorial Lecture at Bletchley Park National Museum and also lectured on Turing’s life and work at the Royal Institution of London. He received the Scientific American Sci/Tech Web Award for his on-line archive He has been script advisor, co-writer, and scientific consultant for a number of documentaries on Turing. One of these, the BBC's Code-Breakers: Bletchley Park's Lost Heroes, won two BAFTAs (British Academy of Film and Television Arts awards) in 2012, and was listed as one of the year's three best historical documentaries at the 2013 Media Impact Awards in New York City.

A Londoner by birth, Jack earned a B.Phil. with Distinction from the University of Oxford—where he was taught by Turing's great friend Robin Gandy—and followed by a D.Phil. in mathematical logic. Jack has been a visiting scholar at the University of California at Los Angeles, a visiting professor at the universities of Sydney, Aarhus, Melbourne, and Portsmouth, a senior fellow of the Dibner Institute for the History of Science and Technology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and most recently Gastprofessor in the Departments of Philosophy and Computer Science at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich) and, of course, Visiting Professor at IVA. He is a past president of the U.S.-based Society for Machines and Mentality and is the founding editor of theRutherford Journal for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology.