Code Breaker, Inventor Of Computer Alan Turing Honored
An exhibition depicting the life and work of code breaker and mathematician Alan Turing has opened at Bletchley Park in Buckinghamshire near London. In 1940, at the outset of World War 11, Turing led a gifted group of assorted experts to crack the German Enigma code. In the process, Turing and his cohorts created the world’s first computer.
Breaking the code, dubbed the Ultra Secret, was a key factor that allowed Great Britain to hold on alone against the German war machine from 1939 until the US effectively entered the war in 1942 after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor December 7, 1941. The Bletchley code-breakers kept Ultra secret until the British government declassified its existence in the late 1970s.
The use of Ultra material was cunningly safeguarded during the war, including elaborate deceptions to keep the Germans from discovering the codes were compromised. Ultra was a critical component in the 1944 D-Day landings in Normandy. Intelligence officials monitored coded German transmissions to verify they were duped by the elaborate schemes to cloak the invasion destination.
Turing, a homosexual, was considered a security risk after the end of the war and was denied access to sensitive materials. In despair, he committed suicide in 1954 by ingesting an apple laced with strychnine he administrated with a syringe.
The Life and Works of Alan Turing exhibition, which includes rare mathematical papers and personal artifacts donated by the Turing family, was developed following a public campaign to save a rare collection of his mathematical papers, now known as the Turing-Newman Collaboration Collection.
Alan Turing is credited with a key role in breaking wartime German codes
Members of the Turing family donated some of the mathematician’s personal belongings, including a teddy bear called Porgy he used for practicing his lectures, a biography written by his mother, prize books awarded at school and his wristwatch. His sporting prowess is highlighted by tankards awarded by King’s College, Cambridge for his rowing, and a set of oars hand-painted with his name.
Iain Standen from the Bletchley Park Trust said the exhibition gave “long-awaited recognition to the short but brilliant life and legacy of Alan Turing, the father of computing”.