Computing KS3/KS4: How computers changed the Second World War and future communication

A look at the creation of one of the first computers in 1943 called Colossus.

It was designed and programmed to solve a specific problem of breaking German encrypted messages quicker than humans could.

Interviews and images from the National Computing Museum at Bletchley Park near Milton Keynes alongside animations and newsreels help to explain what encryption is.

We also find out how the use of one of the world’s first digital computers helped to shorten the war by up to two years.

Short animations, interviews and narrator explanations also address how problem solving and encryption is relevant to modern computing and data communications.

Teacher Notes

This clip could be used to introduce students to the birth of computing and its importance during the Second World War.

It could help raise questions about and/ or activities relating to abstraction and automation relating to encryption and internet security.

Compare and contrast the hardware components of the Colossus machine against (Von Neumann theory) modern computers that enables these newer devices to be more general purpose.

Curriculum Notes

This clip will be relevant for teaching Computer Science for KS3, KS4 and GCSE and appears in OCR, Edexcel, AQA, WJEC in England and Wales, and SQA National 4, 5 and Higher in Scotland.

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