If you are capable of reading this blog post, you can attribute it to one man … Alan Turing.
Alan Mathison Turing OBE FRS was born on 23 June 1912 in Maida Vale, London. He is essentially the creator of the computer, and so much more. If you are tapping away on a keyboard, surfing the internet, or socially networking on Facebook, none of this would have been possible without Turing.
Turing has been listed in Time Magazines as one of the 100 Most Important People of the 20th Century and the BBC’s nation wide poll as one of the 100 Greatest Britons ranking higher that Queen Elizabeth II, Stephen Hawking and King Henry VIII.
During WW2, Turing worked extensively at Bletchley Park on decoding German ciphers and the Enigma machine, which led to the turn the war in Britain’s favour. Turing also worked extensively pioneering the first computers. He would also contribute to this initial origins of Artificial Intelligence through chess playing algorithms. He theorised about biological growth through mathematical morphogenesis, in layman’s terms, a mathematical equation as to why things combine and grow.
As a scientist and mathematician, Turing revolutionised the world.
In 1952 Turing was charged with gross indecency under Section 11 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885, after admitting to a homosexual relationship. Turing was given two choices – to be thrown in gaol, or accept medical treatment (which in those days was chemical castration through the injection of Estrogen). Turing chose the later. This was the same law that Oscar Wilde was prosecuted under years before. Turing was subsequently stripped of his security clearance and removed from government cryptanalysis projects.
Turing took his own life in 1954 by cyanide poisoning.
Fifty-five years after his death, in September of this year, as an result of an online petition British Prime Minister Gordon Brown released a statement formally acknowledging the great work of Alan Turing and apologising on behalf of the British Government for the “appalling treatment” he received under the law.
The United Kingdom decriminalised homosexuality in 1967, and it was removed as a disorder from the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in 1973.