Bletchley Park Bail Out
Posted: January 1, 2021
To: Bletchley Park.
What: A lot of money.
Facebook has made a million-pound ($1.3 million) donation to Bletchley Park. What’s Bletchley Park? It’s not a spot with swings and slides. It’s a Victorian country house in England. Without Bletchley Park, Facebook wouldn’t exist. In fact, computers wouldn’t exist!
During World War II, codebreakers lived at Bletchley Park. They worked day and night on a top-secret mission. They knew their enemies—military officials from Nazi Germany—sent messages to each other. But they didn’t know what these messages said. The messages were encrypted (written in a secret code that mixes up letters of the alphabet).
Eventually, the whizzes at Bletchley Park cracked Germany’s code. How? They invented a new type of computer! This invention helped other people develop the modern computers that we have today. Computers can solve problems a lot faster than people can. That engineering victory led to victory in the war.
After the war ended, Bletchley Park was turned into a museum. People went there to learn about coding. (Coding is how people give instructions to a computer. It’s also called computer programming.)
But now Bletchley Park is in trouble. Hundreds of thousands of people visit during a normal year—but 2020 has not been normal for anyone. Like places all over the world, Bletchley Park could not receive nearly as many visitors as usual during the coronavirus pandemic. It has lost almost all its income.
Steve Hatch is Facebook’s vice president for northern Europe. He says Facebook’s technologies wouldn’t exist without the work done at Bletchley Park. The donation will help keep the park running. It will let staff keep their jobs.
“Our hope is that Bletchley staying open inspires the next generation of engineers,” says Mr. Hatch.