The UK's National Museum of Computing has come up with a novel idea to raise funds for its new gallery for its rebuilt Colossus computer - you can sponsor a valve.
The National Museum of Computing (TNMOC) is located within the Bletchley Park complex, but unlike its landlord it hasn't received lottery funding and works within very modest budgets.
It is looking to raise £150,000 to create a completely new gallery for its most famous exhibit: the rebuild of Colossus, the world's first electronic, programmable computer.
While large donations from corporates - Google, Microsoft, HP and so on - and benefactors will be acknowledged within the gallery, individuals and small companies can also make publicly acknowledged donations from £10 by sponsoring a valve on a virtual Colossus at www.colossusonline.org.
All you have to do is mark out the pixels you want to buy (at £0.1 per pixel), upload your graphic, set the URL you want linked to and the hover over text and pay via PayPal. It's easy, quick and painless - see if you can spot the I Programmer logo.
The new gallery is in Bletchley Park's historic Block H, on the spot where Colossus No 9 stood during the war and where the rebuild took place. It is designed to be a fitting tribute to the wartime code-breakers, including Tony Sale who pioneered the rebuilding of Colossus from and an inspiration to future generations of computer scientists and engineers.
The original Colossus, designed by a team led by Tommy Flowers and first operational at Bletchley Park in 1944, was used to help decipher encrypted messages between Hitler and his generals during World War II. With the help of ten Colossus computers, the intelligence gained from these communications is generally acknowledged as having shortened the war by two years and to have saved countless thousands of lives.
For decades information about Colossus was kept a closely guarded secret and its place in computing history could not be revealed. In 1975 the first details about Colossus became public and in the 1990s a functioning rebuild of Colossus was begun by a team led by the late Tony Sale using fragments of available information.
Tony Sale (1931- 2011) and the rebuilt Colossus
Tim Reynolds, Acting Chairman of TNMOC, said:
"Tony Sale's tribute to the wartime code-breakers is awe-inspiring and we are seeking resources to present the rebuilt Colossus so that generations to come will be able to understand its significance. The death of Tony Sale last year was a tragic loss to us all, but fortunately he had already started to plan the new gallery with a TNMOC team."
For more on the history, significance and architecture of Colossus see our history of it.