The work of east London computer pioneer Tommy Flowers features on a series of stamps celebrating British inventions.
Flowers, from Poplar, invented Colossus – the world’s first electronic, digital and programmable computer used at the code-breaking centre at Bletchley Park during the Second World War.
The invention sits alongside other key breakthroughs – including the world wide web, fibre optics and stainless steel – and has special resonance for Royal Mail for Flowers (1905-1998) was a General Post Office employee who worked on the design at the Post Office Research Station in London.
As a tribute, Royal Mail vans based in Docklands will be adorned with a copy of Tommy Flowers’ special postmark.
The machine was built during the Second World War to decipher messages sent between officials in Germany and commanders in the field through the Lorenz cypher. The code was broken in 1942 and the next year Flowers was set the challenge of speeding up the process.
His proposal for Colossus, which involved the use of large numbers of thermionic valves, was initially met with scepticism, but by December 1943, his team had completed the first five-tonne Colossus machine which became operational at Bletchley Park.
The breakthrough remained a secret for decades before it was declassified. Flowers received a payment of £1,000 from the government but that didn’t even cover his own investments in the machine.
He went on to pioneer the all-electronic telephone exchange and Premium Bond numbers machine Ernie.
The stamp depicts the input method – ticker tape – spelling out the word "Peace".
Full list of inventions
1. World Wide Web
3. Fibre Optics
Sir Charles Kao and George Hockham
4. Stainless Steel
5. Carbon Fibre
6. DNA Sequencing