Happy Birthday, Alan Turing—June 23, 1912
Tuesday at 5:06 pm
June 23 is the birthday of Alan Turing–one of the greatest minds of the 20th century. A mathematical and computer genius, he saved countless lives in World War II by breaking the Nazi Enigma Code.
His work paved the way to modern weather modeling, and even the computers and smartphones we use today.
Sadly, he was not treated as a visionary or a hero. After the War, he was persecuted for homosexuality, which was illegal at the time. He lost his security clearance and was forced to undergo hormone therapy. He committed suicide on June 7, 1954. He was 41 years old.
Only recently has his name been vindicated, and his contribution to knowledge and humanity been recognized. In 2009, an online petition to clear his name gathered over 35,000 signatures, and the British Prime Minister made an official public apology on behalf of the British government. Queen Elizabeth granted Turing a posthumous Royal Pardon in 2013.
And there is a film based on his life. The Imitation Game, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing, was released in 2014. It received eight Academy Award nominations, winning for Best Adapted Screenplay.
If you are reading this on a smartphone, a laptop, or a tablet, you can thank Alan Turing. Not only did he help defeat the forcers of fascism, you are holding the future he imagined in your hands.
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