Alan Turing's codebreaking machine voted engineers' favourite artefact


  • Author: Statistics Views
  • Date: 08 October 2014
  • Copyright: By Alan_Turing.jpg: Jon Callas from San Jose, USA derivative work: OS (Alan_Turing.jpg) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Members of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers have voted the Bombe as their favourite Engineering Heritage Award winner in a new survey.

thumbnail image: Alan Turing's codebreaking machine voted engineers' favourite artefact

All 105,000 members of the Institution were asked to vote for their favourite of the 99 artefacts already in receipt of an Engineering Heritage Award. The top five results of the vote, found the Bombe was the favourite with 19% of the vote, Concorde was second with 17%, followed by the Rolls Royce RB211 engine with 11% of the vote, Mallard locomotive with 10% and the Crossness Engine House & James Watt Beam Engine with 6%.

The awards, established in 1984, aim to promote artefacts, sites or landmarks of significant engineering importance – past and present.

The Bombe was an electromechanical device designed to help crack the German Enigma code during the Second World War. All of the 210 Bombes built by the British Tabulating Machine Company during World War Two were dismantled after the war but a fully-functioning replica, on display at Bletchley Park, was completed in 2007.

The Bombe was the brainchild of mathematicians and codebreakers Alan Turing and Gordon Welchman, who then passed on their concept for design and construction to Harold Keen, an engineer at the British Tabulating Machine Company. The machines allowed up to 5,000 messages a day to be decoded and were pivotal to the Allied Forces winning the war.

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