Alan Turing: 23 June 1912 – 7 June 1954
“We can only see a short distance ahead, but we can see plenty there that needs to be done.” – Turing
Widely considered to be the ‘father of theoretical computer science’, English mathematician, computer scientist, logician, cryptanalyst and philosopher Turing was highly influential in the development of theoretical computer science.
He is probably best known for his work at Bletchley Park, Britain’s codebreaking centre, in the Second World War. He devised a number of techniques for improving the breaking of German ciphers and played a crucial part in deciphering intercepted coded messages that enabled the Allies to defeat the Nazis in many crucial engagements. It has been estimated that the work by Turing and his team shortened the war in Europe by more than two years and saved over 14 million lives.
After the war, Turing’s work included the design of the Automatic Computing Engine (one of the first designs for a stored-program computer) and work at the Victoria University of Manchester where he helped develop Manchester Computers (an innovative series of stored-program electronic computers).
Turing was prosecuted in 1952 for homosexual acts. In 2009, a public campaign resulted in an official public apology on behalf of the government for the way he was treated and a posthumous pardon by Queen Elizabeth II. In 2019 it was announced that Turing would feature on the new £50 note.
Artwork by Aylwyn Bowen.