Codebreaking: The Role of Women

Bletchley Park is the birthplace of modern computing – the first place that a digital computer was used to solve a real-world problem. From the start, women were directly involved in this groundbreaking work, which was kept secret from the general public.

As we will see later in this resource, the best codebreakers at Bletchley Park were women, who quickly learned the skills necessary to survive and thrive in this area and showed tremendous capacity for computational thought.

As you will see from the video on this page, the role of women in code breaking at Bletchley Park was unique, vital and irreplaceable.

A rebuild of the original Colossus computercan be seen in action in Block Hat, theNational Museum of Computing which ispart of the Bletchley Park Estate.

“ Bletchley Park is the birthplace of modern computing, and women were there from the very start. ”

Michael Smith

How significant were women at the start of modern computing?

'I think Bletchley Park is the birthplace of modern computing. This is the place where an electronic, digital computer is first used in a real operational sense. And women were working on it from the start. They were the operators; the guys that we later see walking around at white coats with clipboards, looking at the computer, their origins are with these women'