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Issue No.02 - April-June (2006 vol.28)
pp: 44-55
ABSTRACT
A number of cryptanalysis projects were developed in the UK during the postwar years 1945?1955. One of the most significant of these was Oedipus, a special-purpose rapid analytical machine using novel digital storage. Oedipus was developed by GCHQ and the UK companies Elliott and Ferranti. Oedipus contained a large semiconductor associative memory, a magnetic drum with on-the-fly searching, and a high-speed RAM cache. Its history has only recently been made publicly available.
INDEX TERMS
Digital storage, associative memory, GCHQ, Colossus, Bletchley Park; code-breaking, Oedipus, rapid analytical machine, Elliott Brothers (London) Ltd., Ferranti Ltd.
CITATION
Simon Lavington, "In the Footsteps of Colossus: A Description of Oedipus", IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, vol.28, no. 2, pp. 44-55, April-June 2006, doi:10.1109/MAHC.2006.34
REFERENCES
1. T.H. Flowers, "The Design of Colossus," Annals of the History of Computing, vol. 5, no. 3, 1983, pp. 239–252.
2. A.W.M. Coombs, "The Making of Colossus," Annals of the History of Computing, vol. 5, no. 3, 1983, pp. 253–259.
3. W.W. Chandler, "The Installation and Maintenance of Colossus," Annals of the History of Computing, vol. 5, no. 3, 1983, pp. 260–262.
4. B.J. Copeland, "Colossus: its Origins and Originators," IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, vol. 26, no. 4, 2004, pp. 38–45.
5. C. Burke, Information and Secrecy, Scarecrow Press, 1994.
6. E. Tomash, "The Start of an ERA, Engineering Research Associates, Inc., 1946–1955," A History of Computing in the Twentieth Century, N. Metropolis, J. Howlett, and G.-C. Rota, eds., Academic Press, 1980, pp. 485–495.
7. E. Tomash and A.A. Cohen, "The Birth of an ERA," Annals of the History of Computing, vol. 1, no. 2, 1979, pp. 83–97.
8. S.S. Snyder, "Computer Advances Pioneered by Cryptologic Organizations," Annals of the History of Computing, vol. 2, no. 1, 1980, pp. 61–62.
9. British National Archives document HW 25/4: General Report on Tunny, Volume 1: Account of the Methods Used for Breaking German Teleprinter Cypher Messages, 1st June 1941 to 30th June 1945, report of the Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS, predecessor to GCHQ). See pp. 26, 260, 365, and 366, and photo on p. 58.
10. P. Freeman, How GCHQ Came to Cheltenham, GCHQ, 2002. This was part of an exhibition in Cheltenham's Art Gallery and Museum to mark the 50th anniversary of GCHQ's arrival in Cheltenham. Copy available in Cheltenham Reference Library: Cheltenham.reference@gloucestershire.gov.uk .
11. British National Archives document CAB 21/2522: Cypher Policy Board: Security of British Codes and Cyphers, October 1943 to September 1945.
12. British National Archives document HW 62/6: GC&CS miscellaneous papers: Equipment-Machinery, Vol. III, covering 2 Jan. 1944 to 14 Aug. 1945. See especially the letter dated 9 July 1945, titled "Disposal of Fish Machinery."
13. S.L.H. Clarke, "The Elliott 400 Series and Before," The Radio and Electronic Engineer, vol. 45, no. 8, 1975, pp. 415–421. For more technical details of the Elliott 152 and 153 computers, browse the E1 entries at http://www.ourcomputerheritage.orgwp/.
14. S.H. Lavington, Early British Computers, Manchester Univ. Press, 1980. See also http://ed-thelen.org/comp-histEarlyBritish.html . The ACE and DEUCE computers were universally known by those abbreviations. Literally, ACE stood for Automatic Computing Engine and DEUCE for Digital Electronic Universal Computing Engine.
15. A.A. Cohen and W.R. Keay, "Selective Alteration of Digital Data in a Magnetic Drum Computer Memory," abstract of a paper presented at the IRE National Convention, Proc. IRE, vol. 36, 1948, p. 379.
16. F.C. Williams, T. Kilburn, C.N.W. Litting, D.B.G. Edwards, and G.R. Hoffman, "Recent Advances in Cathode Ray Tube Storage," Proc. IEE, vol. 100, 1953, pp. 523–539. (This paper was first received by the IEE on 15 Dec. 1951.)
17. V.A.J. Maller, "Information Retrieval Using the Content Addressable File Store," Information Processing 80 (IFIP-80), S.H. Lavington, ed., North-Holland, 1980, pp. 187–192.
18. D. Aspinall, D.J. Kinniment, and D.B.G. Edwards, "An Integrated Associative Memory Matrix," Information Processing 68 (IFIP-68), North Holland, 1969, pp. D81–D90.
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