Colossus rebuilder and National Museum of Computing founder Tony Sale dies aged 80


Colossus rebuilder and National Museum of Computing founder Tony Sale dies aged 80

Kathleen Hall

Tony Sale, co-founder of the National Museum of Computing and visionary who led the team that rebuilt Colossus, the world's first modern computer, has died at the age of 80.

Among his many achievements, Tony Sale was responsible for the campaign to save Bletchley Park in 1991 with his wife Margaret. He was also responsible for leading the Colossus Rebuild Project to recreate the world's first modern computer.

The original Colossus computers were designed and built to decipher the Lorenz-encrypted messages of the German High Command during the war. The successful decryption of these messages is credited with shortening the war by many months and saving thousands of lives.

The project was completed in 2007 and was celebrated with the opening of the National Museum of Computing (TNMOC).

Tony Sale was born in 1931 and as a teenager was educated at Dulwich College in London. According to TNMOC, he showed a remarkable aptitude for engineering and electronics and produced his first robot, George I, from Meccano.

Sale joined the Royal Air Force and achieved the rank of flying officer, and at the age of just 20 he was lecturing on radar.

He went on to join Marconi's Research Laboratories in 1952, and five years later joined MI5 where he became principal scientific officer. In the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, his fascination with electronics and computers grew and he established several innovative software companies.

Andy Clark, chairman of TNMOC trustees, said: "Tony Sale's passing is a tremendous loss to us all on a personal and professional basis, but the foundations that he helped to lay are secure. Tony's energy seemed boundless and, despite being ill in the past weeks, he continued to work diligently: being interviewed by film crews, talking to visitors and laying plans for the refurbishment of the Colossus Gallery."

In his later years Sale received honorary doctorates from three universities in recognition of his achievements.

Photo: ljw on Flickr

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