John Harper, Leader of the Bombe Rebuild Team receives Honorary Fellowship of BCS
Released : Dec 17, 2007
Congratulations to John Harper for his award of Honorary Fellowship of the British Computer Society for outstanding service. This is an accolade that is shared by the entire Bombe Rebuild team for their considerable effort and achievement.
Citation for Honorary Fellowship for John Harper
(Compiled by Roger Johnson and David Hartley October 2007)
John Harper spent most his career with ICL working on a wide range of machines
starting in the early 1960s with the ICT 1500 and Powers Samas PCC and continuing
with ICL 1900 and 2900 machines until he retired in the mid 1990s. During his career
John qualified by evening study for membership of the BCS and IERE including
becoming a C.Eng.
With his retirement John began the major task of rebuilding a British “Bombe”. The
original machines were developed the World War II at Bletchley Park from an idea of
Alan Turing’s to find the wheel settings used by the German Enigma machine.
John started in 1995 with some drawings which had been declassified and gradually
developed a full set of plans from which to begin to rebuild the Bombe. John built up a
team of fellow enthusiasts who he has led throughout the more than 10 years of the
project. In the early days he was able to obtain help from engineers who had worked at
Bletchley Park or at BTM who supplied many of the original components.
John has raised many thousands of pounds in sponsorship, in cash and kind, to enable
the work to be completed. The project has been part of the BCS Computer Conservation
Society’s programme throughout and the BCS is the owner of the Bombe!
The culmination of John’s project was the switch on by the Duke of Kent in July this
year. The Bombe is a testimony to the many thousands who worked at Bletchley Park
throughout the war – not just the famous few but also the many thousands (mainly
WRENs) who just went home when the war was over and carried on with their lives.
However, this project would never have been started without John’s enthusiasm and it is
a tribute to his persistence that after 10 years the work is complete. The reconstruction
is now on permanent public display at Bletchley Park.