Thursday, February 22, 2024

Happy Birthday Alan Turing

Alan Mathison Turing was born on June 23, 1912, in Maida Vale, London, England. He changed the world before his tragic, untimely death at the age of 42.

Every computer you touch today, every smartphone and every tablet computer you owe to Turing. He was without reservation, without hesitation and without a doubt the father of computing.

Turing’s genius saved millions of lives in World War II when he, along with many dedicated people at Bletchley Park created from theories and ideas the equipment and computers that could crack the codes of the germans and win the war.

Turing’s death was a tragedy not only for those around him and his family but for the world and the future. At the time of his death his most advanced work was still top secret and could not be talked about nor revealed. When Alan Turing died the news papers couldn’t print “Man Who Saved Millions Of Human Lives Has Passed Away” or the other accolades he deserved.

Alan Turing book enigma

In most biographies and stories about Turing it is said he committed suicide but if you read the EXCELLENT, incredibly well researched and documented biography of Turing ‘Alan Turing: The Enigma’ (amazon link to purchase) by Andrew Hodges he puts forth in recent updates that this is very likely not the case but an accidental self-poisoning.

From reading his work, explanation and interviews, I totally agree with this finding.

I invite everyone to read this amazing book but also visit Hodges website where he is constantly updating his biography and information on Turing, his life and work. Andrew Hodges’ Turing Web Site

Here’s a link to the BBC page for Turing:

Here’s a link to a video of the biography film BREAKING THE CODE staring Derek Jacobi as Turing.

The brilliant Benedict Cumberbatch, who will play Turing in an upcoming film based (loosely) on Hodges’ book, reads a letter Turing wrote to friend and colleague Norman Routledge:

alan turning computers computing genius

The tragedy of Turing’s death was that he was persecuted for who he was but also that his contributions to humanity were cut short. I can only imagine what innovations, creations, discoveries and breakthroughs Turing would have made in the next 40 years… we can only imagine and weep. 

I chose these pictures to accompany this piece because they’re ones of Alan smiling. It’s from the same sitting where his ‘official’ and most often seen portrait was taken but I like them because he’s smiling.

Turing’s genius cannot be put into words by me nor can the loss we as a species were stuck with by losing him be completely verbalized. In past years i’ve taken days to write something about Alan Turing, his life and contributions. This year, short and sweet and off the top of my head.

One thing I am grateful for is that with each year more and more people learn of him, what he did and how his influence impacts EVERY one of our lives on a daily basis in this technological world we live in.

Celebrate today as your fingers touch a keyboard, when your computer gives you what you want or helps you find something. Alan is there in those moments.  Celebrate the runner, the genius, the young god struck down before his time… Celebrate Alan Turing.

the authorK.B.

Leave a Reply