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PGP, IBM help Bletchley Park raise funds

Campaign to help save the deteriorating buildings that host historical World War II cryptography machines travels to the United States, garnering attention from tech companies.

A campaign will be launched on Tuesday to ask U.S. tech companies to help save Bletchley Park, whose wartime work helped lay the foundations of modern computing and crytography.

The fund-raising campaign will be led by cryptography provider PGP, together with IBM and other technology firms. Phil Dunkelberger, chief executive of PGP, told ZDNet UK in a video interview that the group of companies would be making donations to repair the buildings at Bletchley Park, including the National Museum of Computing, and would be calling for other organizations to get involved.

Photos: A 'Cipher Challenge' for Colossus

"We're calling attention (to the fact that) Bletchley is falling into disrepair, and that, probably, the world owes a debt of gratitude to that place," Dunkelberger said.

Bletchley Park is famous for being the nerve center of U.K. code-breaking operations during World War II, and for being the home of the world's first programmable computer, Colossus.

Historians suggested in May that "without Bletchley Park, the allies may never have won the war." At that time, they said the Bletchley Park site and museum "faced a bleak future unless it could secure funding to keep its doors open and its numerous exhibits from rotting away."

While the buildings at Bletchley Park are under no immediate danger, the fabric of the buildings is deteriorating rapidly. The National Museum of Computing receives no external funding, having been turned down for both National Lottery and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation funds.

PGP's campaign will be the latest in a number of attempts to stop the museum from falling apart. In July, a group of 97 senior scientists wrote to The Times newspaper to highlight the plight of the museum.

Tom Espiner of ZDNet UK reported from London. Colin Barker of ZDNet UK contributed to this article..