Alan Turing was born in 1912 in London, England. Turing was a mathematician and computer scientist who is best known for his work on the Enigma code during World War II. Turing’s work helped the Allies win the war and saved countless lives. After the war, Turing continued his work on computers and developed the Turing machine, which is considered to be the foundation of modern computing. In 1952, Turing was convicted of homosexuality, which was then a crime in the UK.
Alan Turing, biography of the winner of the Enigma Code
Alan Turing was first and foremost a math enthusiast and a genius who laid the foundations of computing and computer science today. Thanks to his work, millions of lives have been saved, although he was not recognized for this until after his death.
Many first heard of Alan Turing through the success of the film The Imitation Game, translated in many countries as the Enigma Code. Until then, only computer circles knew him, who considered him one of the most important pioneers.
Alan Turing played a crucial role in cracking the famous Enigma code, a secret communication system used by the Nazis during World War II. It is believed that Turing’s work shortened the war by about two years, equivalent to saving about 14 million lives.
“The idea behind digital computers can be explained by saying that these machines are meant to perform any operation that can be performed by a human team.”
Alan Turing, however, accomplishes other things in his life. He was indeed the architect of one of the first computers, as we know them today.
In addition, he explored the world of artificial intelligence and invented the famous Turing test. This is a simulation game that determines whether a machine can think. Without going any further, the current CAPTCHA is one of the applications of the Turing test.
Alan Turing, a brilliant boy
Alan Turing was born in Maida Vale, London, England on June 23, 1912. His parents, Julius Mathison Turing and Ethel, lived in India. But his mother insisted that her son be born in Britain. To this end, they temporarily moved to the United Kingdom.
Shortly after the birth, they returned to Chatrapur, where Alan’s father was a British civil servant.
From an early age, Alan showed exceptional intelligence. This was confirmed when he learned to read on his own in just three weeks. He also loved all things numbers and was a fan of puzzles. At only 8 years old, he set up a chemistry laboratory at home and began to experiment.
When he was around 10, his family moved back to England. In 1926 Alan entered boarding school at Sherborne in Dorset. His first day of school coincided with a strike and he walked 60 miles to get there on time. He was also a great athlete, a lover of athletics and swimming, throughout his life.
The Enigma Code
Alan Turing trained at King’s College, Cambridge University and Princeton University in the United States. He obtained his doctorate in mathematics as well as many successes in his teaching phase by contributing greatly to the discipline as well as to the nascent science of computer science.
In 1939, the day after the start of World War II, Turing was called up to serve with the British Decryption Service.
After hard work, Turing was able to decipher Nazi communications using an electromagnetic machine called the Bomb. He succeeded in intercepting German documents in which were recorded the codes that the Nazis would use during the month of February 1941. Thanks to this data and to the Bomb, he was able to interpret many secret messages from the German army.
It was, of course, a secret program and Turing never mentioned it. In fact, his contribution was not known until after his death. Even his friends and family were unaware of his enormous contribution to humanity, as it was a state secret.
Turing’s controversial death
Alan Turing was gay at a time when in England there was still a Victorian-era law in place that made homosexuality a crime.
He managed to keep his condition a secret, but in 1952 his then-lover, Arnold Murray, helped a burglar break into his home to rob him. When Turing denounced the facts, his homosexuality came to light.
This led to charges of gross indecency and sexual perversion, for which Turing would not apologize. As a result, he was sentenced and given the choice between going to prison or undergoing chemical castration by hormone treatment. Turing chose the second alternative, which caused great changes in his body and severe depression.
Two years later, he died at home of cyanide poisoning after biting into an apple containing the substance. Official documents said he took his own life, but doubts remain about his strange death. Turing’s mother said it was an accident and many others speculated it was a homicide.
It has been said that the symbol of the Apple company, a bitten apple that has long had the colors of the homosexual flag, would have been a tribute to Alan Turing. Steve Jobs however always denied it. In 2013, Queen Elizabeth II pardoned this great man and several monuments were erected in his honor.
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Vogue Health Team