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Thomas "Tommy" Harold Flowers, MBE (22 December 1905 – 28 October 1998) was an English engineer. During World War II, Flowers designed Colossus, the world's first programmable electronic computer, to help solve encrypted German messages. Flowers was born at 160 Abbott Road, Poplar in London's East End on 22 December 1905, the son of a bricklayer. Whilst undertaking an apprenticeship in mechanical engineering at the Royal Arsenal, Woolwich, he took evening classes at the University of London to earn a degree in electrical engineering. In 1926, he joined the telecommunications branch of the General Post Office (GPO), moving to work at the research station at Dollis Hill in north-west London in 1930. In 1935, he married Eileen Margaret Green and the couple later had two children, John and Kenneth. From 1935 onward, he explored the use of electronics for telephone exchanges. By 1939, he was convinced that an all-electronic system was possible. This background in switching electronics would prove crucial for his computer design in World War II.