I felt very privileged to be able to attend a BCS (British Computer Society) event held last night, purely co-incidentally, at the Microsoft Campus in Reading where I happen to work. The event was presented by Tony Sale and about how he led the project to rebuild "Colossus", the famous code-breaking machines used at Bletchley Park in the UK during World War 2. Colossus was used to decrypt signals encoded with the Lorenz ciphers. The Colossus rebuild, mostly complete, is now installed in Building H at Bletchley Park and I will now definitely take the opportunity to go along as soon as possible. Tony Sale has his own web-site at www.codesandciphers.co.uk which documents the rebuild project in far more detail than I could possibly start to document. Tony also presents at security conferences - I cannot recommend him more than enough if you get the opportunity to see him. He was an excellent speaker - interesting, witty and entirely captivating, especially due to his "secret service" background experiences and past contacts. It was also refreshing to see someone present without the use of a laptop and powerpoint - how often do you seen an overhead projector used these days? It must be close to 20 years for me.... I'm even contemplating trying it for TechEd this year, but don't think the organisers would cope [:)]
I have a particular personal interest in the history of cryptography, and can also recommend Simon Singh's book "The Code Book" as a great read. I think I must have read it at least 7 times now, and each time I enjoy it more than the last. I must have a browse through my bookshelf to dig it out if it's not too dog-eared.
If you found Tony Sale's talk interesting, you will be almost certainly be equally interested in my forthcoming book: Colossus, Bletchley Park's Greatest Secret. It will be published by Atlantic Books in September. It is based on recently declassified documents and tells the whole Colossus/Fish story for the first time.