On This Day

Alan Turing

Computer Scientist Alan Turing

Full Name: Alan Mathison Turing
Profession: Computer Scientist

United Kingdom

Biography: Turing was a highly influential computer scientist and cryptanalyst who developed the Turing machine, one of the most important theoretical models of a computer. In this regard he is considered to be the father of artificial intelligence and of computer science.

During World War II Turing worked at the UK's code-breaking headquarters at Bletchley Park. Here he played a pivotal role in breaking coded German messages through the Enigma machine, many of which helped the Allies win several crucial battles. One estimate puts the number of lives saved by Turing's work at as many as 14 million.

Turing was never fully recognized during his lifetime due to his homosexuality, which was then a crime in the UK. He was prosecuted in 1952 and underwent forced castration as a punishment. He died in 1954 of cyanide poisoning, at the time ruled as suicide but possibly accidental. In 2009 the British government formally apologized to Turing, and Queen Elizabeth II granted him a pardon in 2013. The Alan Turing law is named after him, which granted pardons to men convicted of homosexuality when it was a crime.

Born: June 23, 1912
Birthplace: London, England, United Kingdom

Generation: Greatest Generation
Chinese Zodiac: Rat
Star Sign: Cancer

Died: June 7, 1954 (aged 41)
Cause of Death: Possible suicide via cyanide poisoning

Articles and Photos

Historical Events

  • 1936-05-28 Alan Turing submits "On Computable Numbers" for publication, in which he set out the theoretical basis for modern computers.
  • 1941-05-09 British intelligence at Bletchley Park breaks German spy codes after capturing Enigma machines aboard the weather ship Muenchen
  • 1952-08-14 Alan Turing's ground-breaking paper on mathematical biology “The Chemical Basis of Morphogenesis” is published

Biographies and Sources