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The Turing-Welchman Pen | Alan Turing & Gordon Welchman

At Conway Stewart we believe our history, and history as whole, is a fascinating and rich subject that educates us, not only on our previous actions, but how we should act in the future.

History tells us of the greatness that others have achieved and that continue to inspire us today. 

Celebrating the Eightieth anniversary of the the first Turing-Welchman Bombe and made possible by the National Museum of Computing, the Turing-Welchman Pen immortalises one of history’s greatest achievements in a stylish and elegant writing instrument.

Alan Turing and Gordon Welchman

Alan Turning and Gordon Welchman worked for the Government Code and Cypher School at Britain’s secret codebreaking base in Bletchley Park, and were instrumental in developing the machines that made it possible to decipher the Enigma code, a form of coded communication used by the Nazis to give orders to their armed forces. 

Turing and Welchman were two of nearly 10,000 people who worked in the wider Bletchley park organisation, but their contribution and innovation enabled them to bring the conflict of World War Two to a close while also laying the groundwork for modern computing. 

Turing, who is known as the father of computer science, has always been the most known of the pair, with his life and work at Bletchley Park being the subject of the 2014 film The Imitation Game starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing. In 2019 it was announced that Turing would be the new face of the upcoming polymer £50 note, celebrating his ‘pioneering work with computers.’

Among Gordon Welchman’s contributions include ‘adapting Alan Turing’s design for the codebreaking Bombe machine, changing it into a workable machine. He also established Hut 6, leading the team who decrypted more than 1 million German air force and army codes’ (bletchleypark.org.uk). Despite this, he is not as famous or as known as Turing, but has in recent years been the focus of an exhibition and a BBC Two documentary titled ‘Bletchley Park: Code-braking’s Forgotten Genius.’

The Enigma Machine

The Enigma Machine was a portable typewriter-like cipher machine used by the Nazis to give coded orders. It used changeable rotors and plugboards to give a staggering 15,000,000,000,000,000,000 possible options, and it was the work that Turing and Welchman undertook at Bletchley Park that enabled them to decode these highly sensitive messages. 

The Turing-Welchman Pen

Every aspect of the Turing-Welchman Pen aims to reflect the achievements of these two men and celebrate their contribution to the war effort. With its striking red, black and silver design this writing instrument is both sleek and a statement. 

Starting with the cap, the silver hallmarked band sports the engraving, ‘Victory’, the name given to the first Turing-Welchman Bombe machine, the machine that enabled the automatic deciphering of Enigma codes - it was made up of 108 detachable rotating drums, three indicator drums and the 26 letters of the alphabet etched into the circumference of each drum.

It’s those etchings on the drum that are the focus of one of the most stunning elements of the Turing-Welchman pen. On the top of the cap is a sterling silver resemblance of the Bombe’s drums, with the 26 letters of the alphabet running in an anti-clockwise fashion. 

Only 211 Turing-Welchman pens will be made to reflect the 211 Bombe machines built during the war, with each pen featuring its edition number engraved on the end of the barrel. And like any good code-breaker, this pen is good at keeping secrets too. Unscrew the end of the barrel to discover a compartment that can hold a small scroll of paper - write a message to yourself, a friend or loved one in a place no one would ever think of. 

Lastly, the barrel engraving ‘The Turing-Welchman Pen’ is a reminder of the names of the ingenious men whose work was so crucial to saving lives and triggering the start of the computer era. 

Despite how far computing as come, the Turing-Welchman pen is a reminder that one of the most important feats in World War Two started with a need, great minds and pen and paper.

We have now sold out of The Turing-Welchman. Next pen in the series is The Alan Turing Pen

The National Museum of Computing

This pen is brought to you by the National Museum of Computing based at Bletchley Park, England. An amazing museum which is home to the world’s largest collection of working historic computers; from the Turing-Welchman Bombe and Colossus of the 1940s through the large systems and mainframes of the 1950s, 60s and 70s, to the rise of personal computing, and culminating with mobile computing, the internet, video games, and robotics. A proportion of each pen sold is given to the Museum to help with their running costs. To take a virtual tour of the Museum visit their website

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