Royal Mail Yearbook features first programmable electronic computer

A Colossus Mark 2 computer being operated by Dorothy Du Boisson (left) and Elsie Booker (courtesy The National Archives)
A Colossus Mark 2 computer being operated by Dorothy Du Boisson (left) and Elsie Booker (courtesy The National Archives)

An in-depth article featuring the famous British World War II computer Colossus (the world’s first programmable electronic computer) and its designer Tommy Flowers (1905-1998) features in the 2015 Royal Mail Year Book that explores the year’s Special Stamp issues.

Inventive Britain Colossus Stamp
Inventive Britain Colossus Stamp

In February this year, as part of its Inventive Britain series, Royal Mail issued a special issue commemorative Colossus stamp with a special launch in the Colossus Gallery at TNMOC.

In Royal Mail’s 2015 Year Book, Tommy Flowers and Colossus are honoured again with a four-page article written by Prof Brian Randell of Newcastle University about the development of the code-breaking computer, the secrecy surrounding it, the eventual disclosure of its existence to the public in 1975 and Tony Sale’s subsequent tribute to it in the form of the Colossus Rebuild at The National Museum of Computing (TNMOC) at Bletchley Park near Milton Keynes, England.

Thomas 'Tommy' Harold Flowers, MBE, c1940s
Thomas ‘Tommy’ Harold Flowers, MBE, c1940s

Kenneth Flowers, son of Tommy Flowers, told TNMOC: “It is very gratifying to see that Colossus and my father’s contribution is becoming increasingly recognised. As my father always said, Colossus was a team effort, so I do hope that the families of all those involved in t he creation of Colossus feel as pleased as we do by this latest tribute.”

Tim Reynolds, Chairman of TNMOC, said: “For so many years the incredible achievements of Tommy Flowers and his team had to be kept secret, so it is now very satisfying to see widening recognition. People like Professor Brian Randell, whose researches led to the public disclosure of the existence of Colossus in the 1970s, and Tony Sale, who headed up the Colossus Rebuild team, have helped reveal the amazing story and ensure that future generations can be inspired by the astonishing feat of the deciphering of Hitler’s most secret cipher.”

You can read Brian Randell’s article here.


Information courtesy The National Museum of Computing.