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Wartime IT contractors to receive comedy tribute to raise funds for Bletchley Park

The original IT contractors of Bletchley Park, who designed the first ever programmable computer and broke the German military’s ‘impenetrable’ Enigma code, are to be celebrated in a comedy tribute at London’s Bloomsbury Theatre on 3rd November 2009.

Called Boffoonery – ‘buffoonery for boffins’ – the high-profile gig will include comedy stars Robert Llewellyn, Richard Herring and Robin Ince, among others.

It has been organised by IT contractor and software developer coach Jason Gorman, to raise funds for the historic National Codes Centre at Bletchley Park, which saw the birth of computing during the Second World War.

Turing’s triumph

Mathematician Alan Turing was one of the original team to start work breaking codes at Bletchley Park in 1940, which lead to the UK’s intelligence-based success against Germany’s U-boat campaign to sink allied shipping.

The infamous Enigma machines, whose original code was first recognised and then broken by Polish mathematicians between the First and Second World Wars, allowed the German military machine – in particular its navy – to communicate freely.

The Bletchley Park team, which broke the more complex wartime codes and invented the world’s first programmable computer as a by-product of their work, were the original UK IT contractors working on a short-term basis on the war effort!

IT contractors celebrate the pioneers

Agile computing expert and IT developer coach Jason Gorman, the driving force behind Boffoonery, is passionate about Bletchley Park’s past and future: “We want to send a strong message to the powers-that-be that the legacy of Bletchley Park has not been forgotten and its spirit lives on.”

And Gorman is determined to commemorate ‘code-breaking central’ in a way that many of its finest would have appreciated – through comedy. “Turing’s team were not archetypal soldiers but academics and chancers, who were highly creative and an ideal problem-solving team,” he says. “I’m sure they would have loved the show!”

ContractorCalculator CEO Dave Chaplin is a mathematician and former IT contractor who identifies closely with the wartime team: “We owe so much to the people who worked at Bletchley Park, whose part in defeating fascism has only been revealed in recent years.

“Turing’s team were the original IT contractors who paved the way for computing to dominate today’s society,” continues Chaplin. “That’s why it is essential that we preserve Bletchley Park’s heritage.”

We want to send a strong message to the powers-that-be that the legacy of Bletchley Park has not been forgotten and its spirit lives on

Jason Gorman, Boffoonery

Secret work

According to Gorman, there is much about the secret work conducted at Bletchley Park we still don’t know and that its former code-breaking specialists have taken to the grave. “Bletchley Park was a hotbed of secret work and Churchill insisted all records were destroyed when the war ended,” he says.

But Gorman is determined to keep the legacy alive with his fundraising and profile-enhancing event in November. He is encouraging IT contractors to ‘do their duty’ by buying tickets for the event in November, and making sure all their IT contractor friends and colleagues come along too. Tickets are on sale now.

The support of event sponsors mean that the entire ticket price, apart from the theatre’s admin charges, will go to the Bletchley Park Trust.

Securing Bletchley Park’s legacy

Decommissioned from formal government service in 1987, the Bletchley Park site was facing destruction to make way for a housing development. It was saved at the eleventh hour by the Bletchley Archaeological and Historical Society, which went on to form the Bletchley Park Trust in 1992, and eventually secured the site’s future in 2000.

Now the Trust needs funds to maintain the site and ensure the legacy of those first IT contractors lives on.

Buy Tickets Now!

Tickes for the event can be bought via the website: Boffoonery.

Published: 12 August 2009

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