Alan Turing – A Centenary Celebration

25 Jun

Alan Turing – 23/06/1912 to 07/06/1954

Alan Turing was born on 23rd June 1912 in Maida Vale, London. He was a mathematical genius and made a Fellow of Kings at the age of 22 on the strength of his dissertation proving the Central Limit Theorem. At the start of World War II he was drafted to work on Cryptanalysis at Bletchley Park and set to work on the German Enigma code. It is not unrealistic to say that without Turing’s contribution the outcome of the war may have been very different……

The Father of Computing……

In an early paper written by Alan Turing he laid out the basics of how an electronic computer would work and the theoretical limits of what they could achieve, a thesis upon which all modern computers work. Ironically, it was the death of a childhood friend, with whom Turing was in love, which inspired his work on computers and the possibility that the human mind could live on inside a machine. In 1952 when he was convicted of ‘gross indecency’ for committing a Homosexual act, under Section 11 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885, Turing was given a choice between imprisonment or probation on condition that he was to be ‘chemically castrated’. He chose the latter and it is widely believed that it was this that was to lead to his suicide two years later, although rumours that the Secret Service had him killed because they considered him a threat to National Security are rife. Whatever you believe, Alan Turing died because of who he was, not what he knew……

What If……

If Alan Turing had not lost someone he cared deeply for when he was young, he may have never turned his thoughts to computation and chosen a different path. The ‘Code Breakers’ at Bletchley Park may have not had the benefit of his genius and the war may have ended differently. It was not until many years after his death that Alan Turing got the recognition he clearly deserved for his contribution to the war effort……

An Apology……

In September 2009 after receiving a petition containing thousands of signatures urging the British Government to posthumously apologise for prosecuting Alan for homosexuality, Prime Minister Gordon Brown described the treatment of Alan Turing as “Appalling”. However, despite numerous pleas backed up with petitions signed by thousands, in 2011 Lord McNally said; “A posthumous pardon was not considered appropriate as Alan Turing was properly convicted of what at the time was a criminal offence”, adding “He would have known that this offence was against the law and that he would be prosecuted”. That’s the thanks you can expect for serving your country if you happen to love someone of the same sex……

Alan Turing was a genius, a hero, a forward thinker and a gay man. And for all of those things, Alan we are proud of you……


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One Response to “Alan Turing – A Centenary Celebration”

  1. Steve Walker December 14, 2012 at 11:02 pm #

    Reblogged this on A Dripping Tap's Blog and commented:

    As the subject of a pardon for Alan Turin is in today’s news, here’s something I wrote in June

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