Alan Turing was perhaps the most underappreciated figure of the 20th century. The computer pioneer, codebreaker and bona fide hero was a huge part of the reason the allies were able to defeat the Nazis during the Second World War.
In 1952, just a few years after the allies had triumphed, Turing was prosecuted for homosexual acts and chemically castrated as an alternative to prison.
Turing’s life came to an end in 1954, 16 days before his 42nd birthday, as a result of cyanide poisoning. An inquest deemed his death a suicide and the great man was taken too early from a world he’d had an immeasurable impact on.
In 2009, prime minister Gordon Brown made an official public apology on behalf of the British government for “the appalling way he was treated” and the Queen granted Turing a posthumous pardon in 2013. Benedict Cumberbatch portrayed Turing in The Imitation Game in 2014 and his story reached a whole new generation.
This week, it was announced that the British hero will appear on the Bank of England’s new £50. The governor of the Bank of England described Turing as:
An outstanding mathematician whose work has had an enormous impact on how we live today.
The decision was welcomed by anyone with a modicum of human decency but the greatest aspect of all this was the observation made by Dan Barker on Twitter.
I just got a nice little shiver when working out whether the binary on the ribbon of the new £50 banknote meant any… https://t.co/qigpGKbqrF