Sun Jun 27 2021
The Bank of England has issued a £50 note featuring Alan Turing
The Bank of England have just launched a new £50 note that features Enigma Code breaker, gay icon and father of modern computer science, Alan Turing.
The note will be made from the polymer-based material rather than paper and will feature Alan Turing instead of steam-age engineers James Watt and Mathew Boulton.
The old-style notes will be withdrawn from circulation by the end of September this year with the new due to start appearing on the 23rd June, to coincide with Alan Turing’s birthday.
Alan Turing was born in 1912 and quickly showed his proficiency for mathematics.
He was a keen logician and was instrumental in many of the concepts and algorithms that are still used in modern computing today in the likes of computer programs, encrypted voice communication and AI.
However, thanks to a Hollywood blockbuster or two, he’s best known for his work at Bletchley Park during WW2, where he cracked military messages that had been encrypted by the German Enigma Machine.
Many historians credit that breakthrough as shortening the war and saving thousands of lives.
One of his colleagues and compatriots, after the war, was quoted as saying:
The extraordinary thing is that, this quiet man was probably the most important man of his time, except possibly Churchill. Turing did not look like a superstar, he was a very modest man, but Turing was the genius who broke Naval Enigma.
Many computer scientists know him best though for his earlier work in the ‘30’s on early versions of what was to become known as the ‘Turing Machine’, an algorithm based model of computation and one of the foundations of modern computer science.
Post WW2 he designed ACE (Automatic Computing Engine)… one of the earliest examples of a computer program and was named deputy director of the Computing Laboratory at Manchester University where he began to research AI and theoretical mathematics.
That all came to an end though when he was arrested in 1952 on charges of gross indecency for having an affair with a man and was forced to take female hormones to ‘cure’ his homosexuality as an alternative to going to prison.
Sadly, he committed suicide in 1954 at the age of 41.
It took until 2013 for a posthumous pardon to be issued but with the issue of the new £50 note he takes his place as one of the greats of British history.
Sun Jun 27 2021