• Sat. May 8th, 2021

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Technology

Facebook donates $1.3 million to boost WWII code-breaking site



a group of people sitting in front of a piano: All workers at the estate were ordered to sign the Official Secrets Act. For many young girls at the park, this meant that their families had no idea where their 18-year-old daughters had been sent.


© Crown Copyright, used with kind permission, Director GCHQ
All workers at the estate were ordered to sign the Official Secrets Act. For many young girls at the park, this meant that their families had no idea where their 18-year-old daughters had been sent.

Facebook has made a £1 million ($1.3 million) donation to the museum at Bletchley Park, where British code-breakers decrypted messages sent using Nazi Germany’s Enigma cipher and contributed to an Allied victory in World War II, after the site was forced to cut dozens of jobs as a result of the pandemic.

During the war, the mansion in Buckinghamshire, southeastern England, was home to the British government’s Code and Cypher School, where the world’s first programmable digital computer was built to decipher the Nazis’ communications.

Facebook said Monday that “the era of the computer was born” at the venue, as it announced its $1.3 million contribution.

“Like too many of our favorite places, it has been hit hard by a drop in visitors and revenue this year, pushing it toward difficult decisions about its future,” Mike Schroepfer, the company’s chief technology officer, said in a blog post. “Facebook is honored to be able to provide £1 million of support to help keep Bletchley Park open to the world.”

The museum that now operates on the site said in August it expected to lose £2 million ($2.6 million) in 2020 as revenues fell, and was planning to dismiss 35 workers — a third of its staff.

The work of 10,000 mostly female code-breakers during the war saved countless lives and shortened the conflict, and historians debate whether an Allied victory could have been achieved without it. Alan Turing, the visionary mathematician who worked at the site, was the subject of the Academy Award winning 2014 film “The Imitation Game.”

“Facebook simply would not exist today if not for Bletchley Park,” Schroepfer wrote. “The work of its most brilliant scientist, Alan Turing, still inspires our tens of thousands of engineers and research scientists today.”

The museum said on Twitter that “this vital support will contribute to our ongoing work and help mitigate the financial impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on the Trust.”

The activities at Bletchley Park remained a secret for several years after the war. In April, rare footage of staff at the site was discovered and published online.

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