Geeking out

I am an enormous geek but, even for me, this was an unbelievably geeky weekend.

Steven and I took a trip out to Bletchley Park on Saturday.

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During World War II, Bletchley Park was home to the codebreakers working to crack the Axis codes, including the famous Enigma. Today, it bills itself as the National Code Centre and has an amazing collection of cypher devices and memorabilia from war-time actitivities there. The most impressive exhibits though are the rebuilt bombes, which were the electromechanical devices used to decipher Enigma messages and the rebuilt Colossus, the first programmable electronic computing device.

A BOMBE

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COLOSSUS

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As well as all of this, Bletchley Park is also the site of the National Museum of Computing. The museum showcases the history of computing from the war-time code-breaking activities at Bletchley Park, all the way through to modern day. If you have any nostalgia for older computer systems, you’ll feel right at home here. The collection includes lots of things that you’d expect, like the Apple Lisa and the Spectrum ZX-81, and some things you might not expect, like the control system for a nuclear power station, installed in the 1960’s and in constant operation until it was decommissioned in 2004.

Both museums feel very much like works-in-progress; there appear to be nearly as many workshops as exhibits but the sheer love and enthusiasm of the people behind them more than make up for any lack of polish.

Then, because the day hadn’t been quite geeky enough yet, we went to see the new Star Trek film. The film does a brilliant job of setting itself free from 40 years’ worth of established history while staying true to the characters and atmosphere of the original. I enjoyed it so much that almost the first words out of my mouth when we left the cinema were “Can we go see it again?” (Just don’t ask me to comment on the astro-physics!)

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