So what is Bletchley Park? And…

Why is Google in love with Bletchley Park?

The wartime discoveries at Bletchley Park (L) laid the foundations for today's Google (R)

Technology giant Google normally has its eyes fixed firmly on the future. But it has turned its attention to an old house in England to help preserve a slice of computing history.

For nearly half a century after World War II, a Victorian manor house in Buckinghamshire lay neglected and unloved, its dilapidated buildings falling into disrepair.

By the early 90s, plans even emerged to tear down the assorted boarded-up huts around the house and erect a supermarket in their place.

For reasons of national security, a veil of secrecy shrouded Bletchley Park. Only in the last 20 years has the extraordinary story of breaking the code of the German Enigma machine finally become well-known.

The secret work there had, it is believed, shortened the war by two years.

But the veil of secrecy came at a cost, not just to the physical fabric of the site, but also, some believe, to Britain and its ability to build on its achievements in computer technology.

The Bletchley Park site, near Milton Keynes, is – at least superficially – a world away from Google’s headquarters in Santa Clara, California, known as the Googleplex.

Bletchley Park was Britain's main decryption establishment during World War II

But a desire, driven by a few individuals, to nurture the past has led to one of the world’s top technology firms taking an unusually close interest in Bletchley Park and its legacy.

Google has provided cash for the purchase of key papers and is backing the current appeal to restore the derelict Block C at Bletchley Park.

The story began a year ago when a tweet caught British-born Google cloud computing executive Simon Meacham’s eye in northern California. The tweet about papers from Alan Turing – the maths genius who was key to much of the wartime codebreaking work – came from Sue Black, a London-based computing expert and longstanding campaigner for Bletchley Park.

The papers – which included work from 1936 on “computable numbers” – were up for sale and therefore in danger of being lost to Bletchley. Turing had described an automatic machine which would be able to read and manipulate symbols on a tape through algorithms.

These concepts would be put into practice in the war when the first electronic programmable computer was built at Bletchley in order to crack codes.

While codebreaking was an important application of Turing’s work, what he conceived has gone on to change the world.

The work of Turing and others was a central foundation for all computing technology including the algorithms that underpin Google’s internet search engine and the page-ranking technology.

Source: BBC News Read more