World War II codebreaking machine fully rebuilt

The United Kingdom’s National Museum of Computing has finished its laborious rebuild of a Tunny machine, a system that produced the final decryptions of intercepted Axis communiques during World War II. The Tunny machines—built by a team led by Bill Tutte—were an effort to re-engineer the Germans’ Lorenz SZ42 cipher machines used in teleprinter communications. Unlike the famous Enigma machines, no Lorenz units were captured by Allied until World War II ended, so Tutte and his team reverse-engineered the processes of the Lorenz machine using only German encrypted communications, a bit of information about the Lorenz, and a handful of communiques that had been successfully decrypted by hand.

Tunny rebuild

Tutte and his team, after thousands of man hours, managed to get the first Tunny machine operational in 1942, well before the famous “Colossus” computer was completed and put to work decrypting German communications. Built largely from existing telephone equipment, the British had 12 to 15 Tunny systems running by the end of the war at the famous Bletchley Park facility, decrypting about 300 messages a week.

The National Museum of Computing’s rebuild of a working Tunny system is also a remarkable achievement: the working Tunnys were dismantled for parts after the war, and no comprehensive circuit diagrams or other engineering records of their design were ever compiled. Nonetheless, a team led by John Pether and John Whetter managed to reconstruct a Tunny system based on photographs, partial circuit diagrams, and consultations with the small number of original Tunny operators who are still alive. Some of the telephone system components were rather easy to locate: some identical parts remained in use by British Telecom through the 1980s.

“We’ve succeeded in rebuilding Tunny with scraps of evidence, and although we are very proud of our work it is rather different from the truly astonishing achievement of Bill Tutte’s re-engineering of the Lorenz machine,” said Pether, in a statement. According to Pether, the most difficult part of hte rebuild was getting the systems’ six timing circuits operating in unison.

From a technological point of view, the Tunny systems weren’t as significant as the later Colossus system, which is now generally regarded as the world’s first modern computer. However, the Tunny systems’ role in World War II cannot be underestimated, as they were functional long before Colossus came online. The Colossus system significantly sped up the process of finding wheel settings used in the Lorenz machines; that information would then be fed to the Tunnys, which would decipher communiques.

The rebuilt Tunny means the National Museum of Computing can now demonstrate the complete codebreaking process performed by the British during World War II, starting with an intercepted communique and proceeding all the way through to a final decrypted message.

[Image: BBC]

Product Review

Acer Predator Triton 500 review

Nvidia’s new RTX 2080 Max-Q is the fastest GPU you’ll find in any laptop, but it usually comes at a steep price. Acer’s Predator Triton 500, starting at $2,500, makes it a little more affordable. But what must you sacrifice in the…
Movies & TV

'Prime'-time TV: Here are the best shows on Amazon Prime right now

There's more to Amazon Prime than free two-day shipping, including access to a number of phenomenal shows at no extra cost. To make the sifting easier, here are our favorite shows currently streaming on Amazon Prime.
Movies & TV

These are the best movies on Hulu right now (March 2019)

From dramas to blockbusters, Hulu offers some great films to its subscribers. Check out the best movies on Hulu, whether you're into charming adventure tales or gruesome horror stories.

These are the must-have games that every Xbox One owner needs

More than four years into its life span, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From Cuphead to Halo 5, the best Xbox One games offer something for players of every type.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix right now (March 2019)

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.

Get the Surface Pro 6, with keyboard included, for $1,000 at Microsoft

Thinking of buying a Surface Pro 6? Microsoft is currently running a deal on its latest Windows 2-in-1, letting you bring one home for $1,000 with the keyboard included in the price.

How the Google Stadia could lead to a new era of multi-GPU gaming

Google's Stadia could use more than one graphics card to deliver the high-performance visuals it's promised. If that leads to better developer support for multi-GPUs, could that mean gaming with two or more graphics cards could finally be…

T-Mobile goes after big cable companies, pilots wireless home internet service

In a shot at big cable companies, T-Mobile is launching a new pilot program to bring an unlimited wireless LTE home internet service to up to 50,000 homes across the United States by the end of 2019.

Type away on the best iPad keyboard cases, from the Mini to the Pro

Whether you're looking to replace your laptop with a tablet or merely want to increase your typing speed, a physical iPad keyboard is the perfect companion to the iPad. Check out our top picks for every available iPad model.

Tablet or notebook? Our favorite 2-in-1 PCs give you the best of both worlds

If you can’t decide if you need a tablet or a notebook, then don’t bother. The best 2-in-1 laptops are both, and they can provide all the power you need. Check out our list for the best 2-in-1s for any user.

Intel gives a peek at what its Arctic Sound GPU could look like

A new set of concept images shown at GDC 2019 is providing a peek at what Intel's upcoming modern discrete GPU, code-named. Arctic Sound, could end up looking like when released in 2020.

Here are the best Chromebook deals available in March 2019

Whether you want a compact laptop to enjoy some entertainment on the go, or you need a no-nonsense machine for school or work, we've smoked out the best cheap Chromebook deals -- from full-sized laptops to 2-in-1 convertibles -- that won't…

From Chromebooks to MacBooks, here are the best laptop deals for March 2019

Whether you need a new laptop for school or work or you're just doing some post-holiday shopping, we've got you covered: These are the best laptop deals going right now, from discounted MacBooks to on-the-go gaming PCs.

Still miss Windows 7? Here's how to make Windows 10 look more like it

There's no simple way of switching on a Windows 7 mode in Windows 10. Instead, you can install third-party software, manually tweak settings, and edit the registry. We provide instructions for using these tweaks and tools.