Tony Sale

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Tony Sale (right) next to "his" rebuilt Colossus (2006)

Anthony Edgar Sale called Tony Sale (born  January 30, 1931 in Chepping Wycombe , Buckinghamshire , †  August 28, 2011 in Bromham , Bedfordshire ) was a British electrical engineer , software developer and historian . He dealt specifically with the history of computer development . At the UK's national computer museum, the National Museum of Computing (TNMOC) in Bletchley Park , England , he led the reconstruction and rebuilding of the legendary Colossus tube computer , one of the world's first mainframe computers to work with electron tubes .


In the 1940s Tony was educated at Dulwich College , a school for boys in south London. From 1949 to 1952 he served in the Royal Air Force (RAF) . There he achieved the rank of flying officer (lieutenant). His duties also included training officer candidates in radar technology . In addition, he developed a robot in his garage that was unimaginable for the time and completed it in 1949. The remote-controlled machine called George was able to push a vacuum cleaner in front of it, which is why Tony Sale is known as the forefather of the household robot. Today his robot is another exhibit at the National Museum of Computing.

In the 1950s Sale worked as an engineer for the British domestic intelligence service MI5 .

From 1989 he was curator of the London Science Museum ( science museum ), where he took care of the preservation of historically valuable calculating machines. From 1992 he was also closely linked to Bletchley Park. The preservation of the historically significant sites was very important to him, which is why he volunteered as museum director, acted as technical advisor for the film " Enigma - The Secret " and initiated and managed the project to rebuild the Colossus . Tony Sale was 80 years old. He left behind his wife Margaret, three children and seven grandchildren.

As a legacy, his WWII encryption website remains intact (see #Weblinks ).

Colossus replica

General view of the Colossus replica (2015)

The Colossus tube computer was designed by British cryptanalysts and engineers during World War II and built in several pieces. It was used by the British specifically to decipher secret messages from the German Wehrmacht , which were encrypted with the Lorenz key machine . Immediately after the war, all original Colossi were dismantled and destroyed for reasons of secrecy. It was not until the 1970s that its earlier existence became public. Twenty years later, Tony Sale decided to rebuild a Colossus for the museum in Bletchley Park and he started the Colossus Rebuild Project (German: Colossus Reconstruction Project). He and his team succeeded in recreating it after several years of intensive work and on June 6, 1996, the replica Colossus finally had its first successful test run. For the official inauguration of the replica on November 16, 2007, German radio amateurs radioed a ciphertext encrypted with an original Lorenz machine . The British received the radio message in Bletchley Park and Colossus " cracked " the message in three hours and 35 minutes. It contained an invitation to an exhibition with historical computers in the Heinz Nixdorf MuseumsForum in Paderborn . The replica Colossus is on display at the Bletchley Park Museum.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. The origins of the household robot. Retrieved July 15, 2018 .
  2. ^ Tony Sale: Making the Enigma ciphers for the film "Enigma" . Retrieved December 23, 2015.
  3. ^ Obituary in the Telegraph (English). Retrieved December 23, 2015.