A team of six working together has completely restored the Heath Robinson at the National Museum of Computing. This machine was initially built to try and automate code-cracking but the process was very complex. With just a few photographs and hand drawn diagrams the team was able to reconstruct the machine with the help of some replica circuits based on 1940’s technology. Once the machine was created it was quite a challenge to get it to work, according to the museum workers and volunteers responsible for the build.
The Heath Robinson went into operation in the summer of 1943 and it acknowledged as the inspiration for Colossus, the world’s first programmable computer. The Colossus was only designed off the back of work to try and improve the Heath Robinson. Once the Colossus took over in 1944, the Heath Robinson took a back seat but continued to develop and was used in tackling messages sent between Hitler and the German High Command.
At the end of World War Two there were two “super Robinsons” in use and another two under development. The machine worked all the way up until the 1950’s.