Alan Turing

"Sometimes it is the people no one can imagine anything of, who do the things no one can imagine."

Alan Turing
Alan Turing

Often hailed as the father of computer science and artificial intelligence. Alan Turing was an English Computer Scientist who's work cracking the German Enigma code in World War Two helped to end the war and saved countless lives.


Here is a brief synopsis of his life.

  • June 23rd, 1912: Born in Maida Vale, London.
  • 1918: Started attending day school at St Michael's, 20 Charles Road, St Leonards-on-Sea. The headmistress there recognized his great talent early on.
  • 1926: At age 13 he attended the Sherborn School in Sherborn, Dorset. The first day of classes coincided with the General Strike in Britain, however he was so determined to learn that he rode his bicycle 60 miles alone to school.
  • 1931-1934: Turing studied at King's College in Cambridge. He recieved honours in mathematics.
  • 1935: Turing is elected a King's fellow based on his dissertation proving central limit theorem.
  • 1936: Turing publishes "On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem". Turing presented the idea of a "universal computing machine" that could solve any mathematical problem if it was presented in an algorithm.
  • 1939: Turing earned his PhD from Princeton after two years of study under Alonzo Church. His dissertation "Systems of Logic Based on Ordinals" introduced the concepts of ordinal logic and relative computing.
  • 1939: Turing is asked to join the Government Codes and Ciphers School and arrives at Bletchley Park the day after the UK declares war on Germany. Over the next two years he works to create a device, the Bombe, that will assist in rapidly decrypting German Enigma messages using statistical analysis.
  • 1941: Turing proposed to co-worker Joan Clarke, an engagement he broke off later on after admitting to being a homosexual.
  • 1941-1943: Turing and the team at Bletchley manage to decrypt the German Naval Enigma system. It was a great achievement that gave the allies the upper hand against the German U-Boats.
  • 1945: At the end of the war Turing is presented with an OBE for his services.
  • 1945-1946: Turing joined the National Physical Laboratory where he worked on a digital stored program computing machine. Sadly the lab did not have the funding to build the project.
  • 1947: While on sabbatical in Cambridge the ACE (Automatic Computing Engine) was built in his absence and successfully ran its first program.
  • 1949: Turing became deputy director of the Computing Laboratory at Manchester University. He worked on software for the Manchester Mark 1, an early stored-program computer. He explored AI and presented the idea that would define machine intelligence. The Turing Test at it's core stated that a computer could be said to think if it was indistinguishable from a human being in conversation.
  • 1952: Turing has a relationship with Arnold Murray, who later takes advantage of Turing by breaking into his home with a friend. Turing reports the crime and admits to the homosexual relationship, which was illegal at the time in the UK. Turing is convicted of gross indecency and choses oestrogen hormone injections. As a criminal he is barred from continuing his work with the British Government.
  • June 8th, 1954: Turing is found dead in his apartment. The cause of death is cyanide and it is assumed Turing killed himself as a half eaten apple lay by his side. However the apple was never tested.

"The isolated man does not develop any intellectual power. It is necessary for him to be immersed in an environment of other men, whose techniques he absorbs during the first twenty years of his life. He may then perhaps do a little research of his own and make a very few discoveries which are passed on to other men. From this point of view the search for new techniques must be regarded as carried out by the human community as a whole, rather than by individuals."

Created by Nate Mallison

Sources: Wikipedia Wired