Happy Birthday Alan Turing

Today is the 100th birthday of Alan Turing, widely regarded as the father of mechanical and electronic computing. He was a genius mathematician and cryptographer, and helped win World War II by breaking the German Enigma encoding machines.

Despite his wartime efforts, he was persecuted for being homosexual, and most believe that the mental anguish he endured over his treatment lead him to take his own life in 1954.

All of the electronic devices we take for granted today – computers, smartphones, and the like – can be directly related back to Turing’s work. You wouldn’t be reading these words without his work.

Here is a brief introduction to his life and work:

There has also recently been an acclaimed documentary produced by Channel 4 in the United Kingdom which I can highly recommend if you can get hold of a copy to watch.

In 2009 Turing received an all-too-late apology from then British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, after accepting a petition with thousands of signatures.

“Thousands of people have come together to demand justice for Alan Turing and recognition of the appalling way he was treated. While Turing was dealt with under the law of the time and we can’t put the clock back, his treatment was of course utterly unfair and I am pleased to have the chance to say how deeply sorry I and we all are for what happened to him … So on behalf of the British government, and all those who live freely thanks to Alan’s work I am very proud to say: we’re sorry, you deserved so much better.”

Happy 100th Birthday Alan Turing.