Alan Turing has often been referred to as the father of computers, as he designed the first stored-program computer, ACE in 1946. In honour of his great achievements in this field, Turing is the namesake of the maths building at the University of Manchester.
During WWII Turing invented the Turing-Welchman bombe, an electromechanical machine which broke the enigma code faster than the bombe from 1938, and proved to be one of the primary tools used to attack enigma-protected message traffic. This, in combination with his single-handed solving of the naval indicator system in 1939 earned him an OBE for wartime services.
There was more to Turing though, than just his genius. Aged 14, he was so desperate to attend his new school, that he overcame strike action on the train lines by cycling for 60 miles. He was also an eccentric, who supposedly cycled to the office wearing a gas mask in June so as not to aggravate his hay-fever.
It was, in fact his honesty that ended up his downfall. After a lover, Arnold Murray, broke into his house, in his report to the police Turing confessed to previously having had sexual relations with the intruder. Turing was charged with gross indecency, and chose to be chemically castrated with female hormones rather than face prison.
On 7th June 1954, Turing took a bite out of an apple laced with cyanide, and an inquest determined that he had committed suicide, in a recreation of his favourite scene from Snow White.
Next year marks the 100th anniversary of Turing’s birth. An upcoming film of his life starring Leonardo DiCaprio as the man himself puts will ensure that Turing’s life and sacrifice will never be forgotten.