Archive of WWII codebreaker Alan Turing preserved

Feb 25, 2011 By JILL LAWLESS , Associated Press

(AP) -- Papers relating to codebreaker and computer pioneer Alan Turing will go to a British museum after the National Heritage Memorial Fund stepped in to help buy them for the nation.

The government-backed fund said Friday it had donated more than 200,000 pounds ($320,000) to a campaign to stop the notes and scientific papers from going to a private buyer.

The fund's chair, Jenny Abramsky, said the collection would be a permanent memorial to "a true war hero."

The documents were put up for auction by Christie's in November but did not sell.

An online campaign to keep them in Britain raised 28,500 pounds from members of the public, and computer firm contributed $100,000.

The papers will go to the Bletchley Park Museum northwest of London, which commemorates the famous codebreaking center.

One of the founders of modern computing, Turing worked at Bletchley Park, and helped crack Nazi Germany's secret codes by creating the "Turing bombe," a forerunner of modern computers, to help reveal the settings for the Nazi's Enigma machine.

Turing also did pioneering work on artificial intelligence, developing the "Turing Test" to measure whether a machine can think. One of the most prestigious honors in computing, the $250,000 Turing Prize, is named after him.

But he was not always considered a national treasure. Turing was prosecuted for homosexuality, stripped of his security clearance and forcibly treated with female hormones. He then killed himself in 1954 at age 41.

Homosexuality was illegal in Britain until 1967.

In 2009, then-Prime Minister Gordon Brown made a public apology on behalf of the government for Turing's "inhumane" treatment, saying: "We're sorry, you deserved so much better."

Most of Bletchley Park's secret files were destroyed after the war, and Turing left few records of his work.

The papers in this collection belonged to his friend and fellow codebreaker Max Newman and include 16 of the 18 scientific papers Turing published in his lifetime - notably "On Computable Numbers," a landmark in the history of computing.

Explore further: Google hits back at rivals with futuristic HQ plan

5 /5 (2 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

'Nobel of computing' goes to early PC designer

Mar 09, 2010

(AP) -- A Microsoft Corp. researcher won the $250,000 Turing Award, one of technology's most coveted prizes, on Tuesday for his work helping design and build what is widely considered the first modern personal computer.

Computing a way through the Turing barrier

Feb 22, 2005

Mathematicians working in an emerging field somewhere between physics, computer science and philosophy are investigating new ways of ‘computing the incomputable’ which could radically broaden our understanding of the ...

First Apple computer ready for auction

Nov 12, 2010

Created in 1976, the Apple-1 was only worth $666.66 and was one of an estimated 200 produced by the hand of co-founder Steve Wosniak. The original version, sold without a keyboard, monitor or power supply, ...

Karaoke kings

Aug 02, 2010

Karaoke Revolution, a hugely popular video game for Playstation, X-Box and Wii, used new tools recently developed by European research to create phenomenal animations that would otherwise have been nearly ...

In search of machines that play at being human

Oct 14, 2009

Researchers at Carlos III University (Spain) have taken part in an international contest whose objective is to improve artificial intelligence utilized in virtual worlds. The challenge for the participants ...

Recommended for you

Google hits back at rivals with futuristic HQ plan

14 hours ago

Google unveiled plans Friday for a new campus headquarters integrating wildlife and sweeping waterways, aiming to make a big statement in Silicon Valley—which is already seeing ambitious projects from Apple ...

Barclays to allow payments by using Twitter handles

18 hours ago

The next chapter in banks moving into the digital age is a stretch beyond reminding customers over phone lines that they can also bank online. Barclays has launched Twitter payments through Pingit.

Pebble smartwatch nears Kickstarter record

20 hours ago

The latest version of the Pebble smartwatch neared a record funding amount on Kickstarter on Friday amid growing interest in wearable tech and ahead of the highly anticipated Apple Watch launch.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.