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Gay computer hero Alan Turing named greatest person of 20th Century

Gay computer hero Alan Turing named greatest person of 20th Century

Alan Turing was pardoned in 2013

Alan Turing, the father of computer science who was also gay, was named the most ‘iconic’ figure of the 20th Century on Tuesday (5 February).

Public voting during a live broadcast of BBC Two’s Icons: The Greatest Person Of The 20th Century chose the scientist.

Turing was instrumental in cracking Nazi codes during World War 2. But, he was later chemically castrated for being gay and is believed to have died by taking his own life.

‘He was a man who worked almost entirely in secret, who received little credit for cracking the Nazi codes and shortening the war and who died having been branded a criminal’ said presenter Nick Robinson.

‘Today he is the most celebrated figure of the 20th century, a father of computing, war hero and genius’.

He beat figures such as Martin Luther King Jr, Nelson Mandela, Ernest Shackleton, Pablo Picasso, David Bowie, and Muhammad Ali.


In 2013, Queen Elizabeth II pardoned Turing for his 1952 conviction for having sex with another man.

In World War 2, Turing broke Adolf Hitler’s Enigma codes thus shortening it by up to two years. He likely saved hundreds of thousands of lives.

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

He is believed to have died by suicide two years later; the cause of death was cyanide poisoning.

Some 49,000 gay men, now dead, were convicted for homosexuality. They include poet, wit and playwright Oscar Wilde.