World celebrates 100 years of gay WW2 winner Alan Turing

Father of computer science who was prosecuted for being gay is honored across the world

World celebrates 100 years of gay WW2 winner Alan Turing
23 June 2012

Alan Turing, known as the father of computer science, the codebreaker that helped win World War 2, and the man tortured by the state for being gay, is being celebrated today (23 June).

The British born mathematician and cryptanalyst’s birthday is being honored across the world, with events planned in the UK, USA, Brazil, China, Czech Republic, the Philippines, New Zealand, Israel, Spain, Switzerland, Norway, Italy, Portugal and Germany.

His centenary is also being celebrated with a Google doodle, a functional Turing machine that predated the modern computer.

A Turing machine is a device that manipulates symbols on a strip of tape according to a table of rules, developed by the scientist in 1936.

The device meant the Allies could crack the German Enigma secret codes, allowing them to find and destroy Nazi naval ships.

After the war in 1952 Turing was prosecuted for being gay. He was forced to undergo reparative therapy to try to cure his sexuality, and accepted chemical castration as an alternative to prison.

He is believed to have committed suicide two years later; after it was found he died from cyanide poisoning.

After an internet campaign, Prime Minister Gordon Brown formally apologized on the behalf of the British government in 2009. However, he was not given an official pardon.

An online petition started in March this year to get Turing immortalized on the £10 note already has over 17,000 signatures.

Thomas Thurman, who set up the petition, wrote: ‘Alan Turing is a national hero. His contribution to computer science, and hence to the life of the nation and the world, is incalculable.

‘The ripple-effect of his theories on modern life continues to grow, and may never stop.’

To sign the petition, click here.  

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