Facebook Has Done Some Good by Donating to the WWII Code-breaking Centre, Bletchley Park
The campaign to save one of Britain’s critical wartime heritage sites, and the history behind Bletchley Park, made it a place worth saving. Try and imagine England where important and amazing sites of famously historical significance were replaced with supermarkets and housing estates. Imagine England without its famed Bletchley Park, where the brilliant Alan Turing and his team of genius code breakers forever changed the outcome of World War II and where many educated women inspired the others in the future with their path-breaking work in the fields of cryptology and computing.
Now imagine a group of extraordinarily talented people, who 70 years after the invent of the modern computing device at Bletchley Park, used this technology to initiate a social media campaign to secure its future and transform it into the world-class heritage and education centre it deserves to be. This is a story of saving the famous Bletchley Park and of those hundreds of people who dedicated 2 decades of their life to working hard to run the campaign that eventually saved it. It is a testament to the remarkable and secretive work done during World War II that made it a place worth saving. It is about veterans, technology, campaigners, Twitter enthusiasts, computer geeks, and trees. And, it is a story about preserving the past to inspire future generations to understand the start of the Digital Age.
Enigma relives secret past
A former employee at Bletchley Park, Jean Valentine, works with the device named Turing Bombe, an electro-mechanical computer which cracked Nazi Germany’s infamous Enigma code during the Second World War. Facebook is now donating 1.3 million USD to the historical place – the erstwhile centre for code-breaking activities during the last World War, which is now preserved as a museum. The Bletchley Park Trust announced that they faced a revenue shortfall of a whopping £2 million due to Covid-19. Because of the revenue drop (95 % of annual income), the park was considering laying off 33% of its workforce. Facebook’s donation promises to save at least some of these jobs.
The world’s first programmable digital computer was at Bletchley Park
Facebook made the donation recognizing Bletchley Park’s legacy as the birthplace of modern computing. The pioneering mathematicians and code-breakers duly cracked the Nazi Enigma codes, a significant achievement that historians feel reduced WW-II by two to four years, besides making key theoretical and engineering breakthroughs. These include creating Colossus, the world’s first programmable digital computer, and the vast theoretical output of Alan Turing, the brilliant English mathematician acknowledged as the Father of Artificial Intelligence and Modern Computer Science. At its peak, code-breaking operations at Bletchley Park had over 10,000 employees, and women constituted about 75 % of the workforce.
The path-breaking achievements of the Bletchley team and Alan Turing benefited the world including Facebook, and they were thrilled to preserve this spiritual home of modern computing. Their biggest engineering hub besides the USA is in Britain, with over 3,000 employees, and over 50% working as engineers. Bletchley Park confirmed being very grateful to Facebook for its donation and with popular support, the Trust is in a better position to operate today, and keep its doors open to inspire future generations. Saving Bletchley Park as a beacon is an inspiring task!
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