Alan Turing Remembered

Publish Date: 17/06/2013

Alan Turing was born in 1912; and this Sunday, 23 June, would have been Alan Turing’s 101st Birthday.

Alan Turing is often known as the founding father of computer science, however this wasn’t known widely until the latter 20th century when his work resulted in the development of the World Wide Web, computer chips, and many technological marvels that we wouldn’t be able to manage our lives without today.

During World War II, Turing worked for the Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS) at Bletchley Park, Britain's code breaking centre.

For a time he was head of Hut 8, this was the section responsible for German naval cryptanalysis. He devised a number of techniques for breaking German ciphers, including the method of the bombe, an electromechanical machine that could find settings for the Enigma machine.

Many politicians argue that Turing’s work on the enigma code shortened the war by at least 2 years, ultimately saving millions of lives in the process.

After the war, Turing worked at the National Physical Laboratory, where he designed the ACE, one of the first designs for a stored-program computer.

In 1948 Turing joined Max Newman's Computing Laboratory at Manchester University, where he assisted in the development of the Manchester computers and became interested in mathematical biology.

Turing's homosexuality resulted in a criminal prosecution in 1952, when homosexual acts were still illegal in the United Kingdom.

He accepted treatment with female hormones (chemical castration) as an alternative to prison. Turing died in 1954, just over two weeks before his 42nd birthday, from cyanide poisoning. His mother and friends believed that it was an accident, and not suicide, which was on the coroner’s report.

On 10 September 2009, following an Internet campaign, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown made an official public apology on behalf of the British government for "the appalling way he was treated.

In this year’s annual Homo Hero Awards, supported by Barclays, we are presenting The Alan Turing Memorial Award in partnership with Manchester City Council, to commemorate his astounding work and achievements in his lifetime. This award is for a person, business or organisation who has made a significant contribution to the fight against homophobia in Manchester.

To vote in The Homo Heroes Awards, including The Alan Turing Memorial Award, visit www.lgf.org.uk/hero