Meanwhile Donald Michie had been plucked from the Testery, and Jack Good from Hut 8, to work as Newman's first staff on a very exciting development of the Fish analysis.
Donald Michie had continued to work on refinements of the Turingismus method, reporting informally to Alan on their progress—advances reflected in the fact that at the beginning of 1943 a proportion of the Fish signals were being read regularly and with little delay.
The Turing theory of statistics, with its formalisation of 'likeliness' and 'weight of evidence', and with its 'sequential analysis' idea, were also playing a general part in the Fish work, in which it found greater application than in the Enigma methods.
But by the spring of 1943, Newman's ideas for mechanisation had begun to bear fruit.
Here the new developments with electronic technology, in which the crucial steps had been taken while Alan was in America, were in themselves very significant.
The Post Office engineers had been able to install a first electronic counting machine in Hut F, where Newman and his two assistants worked, in about April 1943. This and its successors were called the 'Robinsons'.
Although they had overcome some of the engineering problems associated with passing paper tape very rapidly through an electronic counter, these 'Robinsons' still suffered from many defects.
They were prone to catch fire; the paper tapes were always breaking; and the counts were unreliable.
This was because the slower parts of the counting process were performed by the old relays, and these produced an electrical interference effect upon the electronic components.
But the fundamental technological problem was that of synchronising the ingestion of the two separate paper tapes demanded by the method.
For all these reasons, the Robinsons proved too unreliable and too slow for effective cryptanalytic use. They were employed only for research purposes.
There was also another fundamental difficulty, not so much physical as logical, which made the machine method too slow.
In using it for the cryptanalytic process, the operator would constantly have to produce fresh tapes, resorting for this purpose to an6 'auxiliary machine that was used to produce the tapes which formed one of the two inputs to the Heath Robinson.'