Talk:Tommy Flowers

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Untitled[edit]

Matt, re your recent edit comment. Colossus was not stored program in the von Neuman sense, but was programmable (rather like Eniac, if I follow correctly -- lots of plugs and plugboards). It is in part he programmable bit which contributes to its priority of place in the history of computing. The article Colossus (and talk page) has hashed this out at some length. Hope that helps.

I just noticed that I should have added that Colossus was not the world's first digital computer. It was the first digital, programmable, electronic computer. ww 21:35, 3 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Sure, I've ammended the description to be in line with the Colossus article. — Matt 21:55, 4 Dec 2004 (UTC)

A quick Google search shows plenty of pictures of Tommy Flowers but I am not sure how to add it to the page. Also, I am not sure about copyright issues when doing this. Can somebody assist?

Peter Gant Budapest 213.134.24.164 10:40, 14 April 2007 (UTC)


The "we go tomorrow" story (about Eisenhower making the decision to invade when he did immediately upon being handed a decrypt, in Flowers' presence) seems to be not very widespread for something so colossally historically significant. Has anyone checked on this book (and its sources), and does this story appear anywhere else? —Preceding unsigned comment added by 96.49.216.238 (talk) 20:31, 24 January 2010 (UTC)


Zygmunt lozinski (talk) 19:07, 8 December 2011 (UTC) The blurb on the dust jacket of Flowers' 1976 book includes the following: "T.H. Flowers graduated in engineering and worked at the British Post Office Laboratories at Dollis Hill, London. He worked on electronics in Telephone Switching and then in World War II he produced the 'Electronic Brain' known as Colossus, which has only recetly been de-classified and is recognised as a significant setp in the development of Electronic Computers. As Head of Switching Research from 1950-1964 he was concerned with the all-electronic exchange, after which he went to ITT-STC until 1970. After that he continued as a Consultant." The dates don't quite line up up with the dates referenced from Brian Randall's (later) article. I'm assuming Flowers' dates are more accurate. If I hear no objections I will replace them.


Zygmunt lozinski (talk) 19:29, 8 December 2011 (UTC) The "we go tomorrow" story is on pp 80-81 of Copeland's book (2006 OUP hardback edition), in Chapter 6 D-Day at Bletchley Park, written by one T.H.Flowers. According to Jack Copeland's biography of the contributors, p. xiii "[Tommy Flowers] completed his chapters Colossus and D-Day at Bletchley Park shortly before he died in 1998'. Nowhere does Flowers say he was present when Eisenhower read the decrypt.


Pett level (talk) 22:51, 10 December 2011 (UTC) The article claims that Flowers was awarded an MBE and gives a reference to the London Gazette of 2nd June 1943 in support. The reference does not list him as a recipient. Indeed the date is highly unlikely considering the stage of his work at the Park. Further it was a common post-war gripe that honours were sparingly, even grudgingly, awarded to technical experts for significant war time work. A recent BBC program (BBC2 25/10/2011 "Bletchley Park's Code Breakers Secrets") made it clear that Flowers did not receive any honour for his ground breaking work.

Is the 'MBE' reference a hoax or a sick joke?

The article needs modification asap.


Pett level (talk) 23:18, 10 December 2011 (UTC) I have just checked ref 6 which does state he was awarded an MBE after the end of the war. Q therefore is, for which date can it be found in the London Gazette? Can this be made explicit via other reference(s) (I know of none)?

Apologies for missing ref 6.

MBE or not[edit]

A search of the London Gazette yields the following: "No documents found, from 01/08/1943 to 31/12/1969 and containing the word(s) Flowers'Order of the British Empire' " which casts doubt on whether he was ever awarded an MBE. I agree that an award in 1943 is highly unlikely and would suggest that the whole sentance should be deleted. --TedColes (talk) 18:08, 12 December 2011 (UTC)

He did receive the MBE. It is recorded in the London Gazette at http://www.london-gazette.co.uk/issues/36035/supplements/2495 about half way down on the right hand side and is dated 4th June 1943. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 82.26.57.60 (talk) 20:50, 7 October 2012 (UTC)

I stand corrected. --TedColes (talk) 21:42, 7 October 2012 (UTC)

Oxford DNB[edit]

Could anyone share "Thomas Flowers Biography" from Oxford DNB, please? It's out of my reach due to geographical causes.AmfiTIMNin (talk) 20:13, 15 March 2013 (UTC)

Hang on, I might be able to. Chambers biographical dictionary has nothing on him, which is just rude. I'll try to find my ONB. Si Trew (talk) 11:00, 12 November 2014 (UTC)

Invented the computer[edit]

If he designed the first computer, shouldn't it described as inventing the first programmable electronic computer? — Preceding unsigned comment added by 82.41.41.184 (talk) 13:26, 5 January 2015 (UTC)

Using much of his own funds to build it.[edit]

From my reading around this subject, the statement that Flowers used "much of his own funds to build" Colossus is a gross over-statement. Considerable funds would have been needed and he was not a rich man. Professor Jack Copeland's book is the most comprehensive on the subject and does not say this. It seems inherently unlikely that an employee of the General Post Office research laboratories, who wold have full access to GPO stores, would need to use items from elsewhere, other than a few unusual ones for which the GPO's ordering process, and wartime shortages, would take an unduly long time. Neither of the two sources that User:Peter K Burian cites for this are particularly reliable about such matters.--TedColes (talk) 06:37, 13 May 2017 (UTC)

On what basis do you say the sources I quoted are "not reliable about such matters"? But OK, I did some more research. And many more sources simply say some of his own money OR
https://books.google.ca/books?isbn=1861897375 The officials at Bletchley Park were sceptical and would not back the development work. But Flowers was so convinced of its potential that he spent £1,000 of his own money and ten months designing and building the Colossus electronic ...
So, I revised this as TedColes suggested. In this article and in the Colossus computer article. Peter K Burian (talk) 17:17, 13 May 2017 (UTC)