Communication has always been critical during warfare. From land, air and sea, the ability to communicate is of strategic importance during combat. Tactical communications played a major part of World War II, as there were major technological developments in both communications and intelligence. Devices were specifically created for improved communication and interception. One of the greatest examples of this was seen at Bletchley Park in 1938.
Bletchley Park, a mansion in Buckinghamshire, became the location of the UK’s Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS). Under the cover of ‘Captain Ridley's Shooting Party’ (a group visiting the country house for a relaxing break), a team including members of MI6 and scholars turned codebreakers arrived with a mission to crack Nazi codes and ciphers.
Amongst the various war-winning efforts that took place at Bletchley Park was the decoding of the Enigma cipher system. The Enigma was a German encoding machine that was revised each day, meaning that there were 159 million million million setting variations to choose from on a daily basis.
The work carried out at Bletchley Park provided the intelligence needed to win the war. We recently contacted Katherine Lynch, the Media Relations Manager at Bletchley Park in order to get some insight into the evolution codebreaking technology at Bletchley Park during World War II.
Katherine said, "Necessity is often said to be the mother of invention and the Codebreakers at Bletchley Park during World War Two knew that their work meant lives. Some of the time's greatest technological innovators gave their all to the task of breaking enemy codes, inventing and fine tuning the machinery they needed to speed up the process, thus greatly increasing the value of the intelligence gleaned from the messages. Along the way, they laid the foundations of the digital age."
World War II produced various technological advances including radio technology and radio-engineering, early radars and computers. The creation of one of the first computers in 1943, Colossus, had a lasting impact on future digital communications.
Technological developments during World War II, and communication technology being produced as the war ended, shaped communication technology, as we know it today.
As Katherine rightly said, necessity is the mother of invention. Rather than communication technology developing to benefit warfare, it is now evolving to enable us to communicate and share information with anyone, anywhere at any time.