Alan Turing

English mathematician, wartime

code-breaker, pioneer of computer

science and in charge of hut 8!

alan turing

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We owe so much to Alan Turing. It was only in more recent times when it was appreciated what he did. Station X was of course secret for many years and therefore the work that he carried out there in code breaking the Enigma and developing the Colossus was equally kept secret.

Station X was also known as Bletchley Park and is well worth a visit. See website:

Alan Turing is said to be the person that invented computers as we know them, working at Manchester University on the Mark 1 computer. He was so far ahead of his time that his work on artifical intelligence is still considered ground breaking and maybe in years to come we will only then start to understand how great a mind and person Alan Turing was.

Bletchley Park and the Enigma code

Alan Turing as a leading mathematical genius as soon as War was declared became one of a select group at the Government Code and Cypher School which had recently moved to Bletchley Park, (known as the home of the code breakers) Buckinghamshire enlisted in code breaking operations.

The most challenging code to break was that of the German navy with Alan Turing in charge of this task developing the Bombe.

alan turing

The Bombe

The Bombe was an electromechanical machine inspired by the Polish Bomba developed by Alan Turing and helped by Gordon Welchman to use as a primary tool to crack the German codes. The Bombe looked for where contradictions had taken place ruling them out and then looking for the next one until only a small number required investigating in detail. The Bombe was crucial to break the German navy codes with over two hundred bombes in use by the end of the war.

alan turing

Hut 8

The development of the Bombe by Turing and Welchman was paramount in the success of the Naval forces and can be attributed to a remarkable reduction in shipping losses during WWII.

Alan Turing and the team worked in Hut 8 at Bletchley Park with Turing proposing to Joan Clarke another mathematician and cryptanalyst but later called off the engagement.

American visit to help with U-boat crisis

Alan Turning's genius was noted by the highest order when he was asked to travel to the United States of America to help with the U-boat crisis to help scramble conversations Churchill was having with Roosevelt . Alan Turing with colleague Donald Bayley devised a portable secure voice machine called Delilah which unfortunately was too late to be used during WWII.

alan turing

The Colossus Project

Mathematician Max Newman, who had lectured Turing at Cambridge , later developed a way of decoding the second generation of enemy coded communications this time based on Lorenz machines which used different mechanisms and methodology to the Enigma machines but like the Bombe used complicated theories and processes to break the codes.

Alan Turing made the key contribution to the design of the Bombe, the electro-mechanical device but was not directly involved in the design of the Colossus which was a special purpose electronic digital computer.

alan turing

Turing's dream of a computer

The Colossus project inspired Turing to learn as much about electronics as possible as he realised a machine that could store instruction codes as well as numbers would realise his dream of a machine that could do what only the human brain was capable of. The National Physical Laboratory asked Alan Turing to design a computer with him inventing ACE but due to delays in building his design returned to Cambridge and his further studies before being asked to join Max Newman at Manchester University .

Mark 1

Max Newman then professor in Manchester University 's Mathematics department asked Alan Turing to join as a Reader in the Royal Society Computing Machine Laboratory or room known as Baby. Alan worked with Newman, Dai Edwards, Tom Kilburn and Cicely Popplewell amongst others developing Manchester Mark 1 with Turing credited for early software.

Alan Turing charged 

Alan Turing had a relationship with Arnold Murray and due to a break in by Murray reported him to the Police whereby the knowledge that he was a homosexual meant that they were both charged. Alan opted for a course of hormone treatments rather than imprisonment but due to the charge he was barred from his work at the Government Code and Cypher School where he had still been a consultant.

alan turing

At this time there was extreme anxiety relating to spies and homosexual entrapment by Soviet agents so it was not surprising Alan Turing was under suspicion but never accused of espionage.

In 2009 the then Prime Minster Gordon Brown said the treatment of Alan Turing's homosexuality had been apalling, but a pardon was still not given.

Alan Turing's final years 

Tony Brooker was the team member in charge of developing the Mark 1 project further with Alan and Newman leaving. Alan Turing continued his research following his interests in biology and was always on hand should any of the Mark 1 team require any help.

alan turing

Alan Turing died in 1954 just weeks short of his 42nd birthday, with the cause of death naming cyanide poisoning and a verdict of suicide though due to his chemical experiments he had cyanide in his home. It is said that Alan Turing's body was found with a half eaten apple next to his bed which is thought to have possibly been the way the fatal dosage was taken. Apple computing it is speculated got their logo remembering Alan Turing's fate; if you look closely at the Apple logo it is an apple that has been bitten into (this is of course speculation). However this theory this was refruted by his mother and many believed his death was accidental and the result of him working closely with dangerous substances.

The National Museum of Computing

Bletchley Park and Block H is now home to The National Museum of Computing in celebration of Turing and the Government Code and Cypher School team's work during the war years. The museum shows the history from the early years with Colossus to more recent times showing how important Turing's work was and how much computers have changed our lives.

Today Bletchley Park is a fascinating place to visit which gives an insight into the secret work that was carried out there during the War years. Bletchley Park is keen to raise funds to keep this part of our history alive and currently is raising funds for valves for the Colossus rebuild project.

Alan Turing's final years 

Tony Brooker was the team member in charge of developing the Mark 1 project further with Alan and Newman leaving. Alan Turing continued his research following his interests in biology and was always on hand should any of the Mark 1 team require any help.

alan turing

The drama Codebreaker came out in 2011 tells the story of Alan Turing and his code breaking achievements during World War II. It tells the story of his personal life through therapy sessons. There are testimonials from people who knew Alan Turing and interviews with technology experts, such as Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.

The Imitation Game is another film about Alan Turing which came out in November 2014, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing shows him and his brilliant team of code breakers at Bletchley Park during World War II. It also shows the personal side of Alan Turing, his sexuality, the illiegality of homosexuality during these times and the dreadful consequences of being found to be a practising gay.

The Imitation Game - Joyce Grove, Nettlebed - Sue Ryder Hospice

The Imitation Game was filmed in Joyce Grove, Nettlebed in Oxfordshire, which is now a Sue Ryder Hospice and is, in our opinion, an absolutely fabulous building. It is where the Fleming family once lived and one of their four sons was the famous author Ian Fleming, who of course wrote the legendary James Bond books. The Fleming family motto was Let The Deed Show. We were advised that this property has been used quite a few times in films and television series.

Joyce Grove House was built in 1904 and was designed by Architect Charles Edward Mallows and is a Grade II building, built in a Jacobean style, with red brick, stone dressing and a slate roof. Internally it has lovely timber panelling, painted ceilings and painted plaster mouldings and the wonderful windows are a work of art on their own.

Anybody who has visited Bletchley Park will appreciate its similarity to Joyce Grove House, especially when they go inside.

As with any older property Joyce Grove has been altered over the years. To give an idea of the size of the property it is said that there were once approximately 80 staff to run it and it used to have its own fire brigade!

Other articles you may be interested in:

We hope you have enjoyed this article and would like to refer you to other articles that we have written on our website. We have a range of articles about interesting people as well as articles specific to building surveys and problems that occur with buildings that we feel may be of interest to you;

Alida Baxter

Charles Brooking

Jeff Howell

Kate Mansfield

Ben Kacyra and CyArk

Structural Survey, what does a Surveyor do?

Should I have a Structural Survey?

Listed buildings and character properties

Oxford University

Cambridge University 


Whilst some of this article is written from general knowledge here are some websites that we think will be of interest to you regarding Alan Turing some of which we have used for information which we would like to give them credit for:;;;;;;;

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