Colossus Mark 2 (1944) reconstruction at Bletchley Park, designed to crack the Lorenz cypher.


You rebuilt me,
Built me just like before –
Built completely like before,
Back in the war.
Complete with switches to program me
And plug-board plugs to patch me –
Authentic no-RAM me,
Your wristwatch could probably match me.
And of course there are the valves,
The thermionic, vacuum-valves –
All two-point-four thousand I can draw on.
(Like all my components, just pulled off the shelves –
Because, after all, there was a war on.)

So you rebuilt me
To run at weekends,
Warming my precious valves slowly.
Do you feel guilty
My life still depends
On the current these fragile valves must bestow me ?
Valves that must surely, one-by-one, all go pop.
Valves that must slowly, bit-by-bit, make me stop.
But hey, you say, don’t worry yourself,
There’s plenty more valves up there on the shelf
But we both know that’s wrong,
The valves have all gone –
Killed by transistors and that trendy silicon.

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