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Alan Turing

Alan Turing
  • Turing was born on 23 June 1912 in Maida Vale, London,while his father, Julius Mathison Turing (1873–1947), was on leave from his position with the Indian Civil Service (ICS) at Chatrapur.
  • Turing’s mother, Julius’ wife, was Ethel Sara Turing.Julius’ work with the ICS brought the family to British India, where his grandfather had been a general in the Bengal Army.
  • However, both Julius and Ethel wanted their children to be brought up in Britain, so they moved to Maida Vale, London, where Alan Turing was born on 23 June 1912.
  • Very early in life, Turing showed signs of the genius that he was later to display prominently. His parents purchased a house in Guildford in 1927, and Turing lived there during school holidays.
  • Turing’s parents enrolled him at St Michael’s, a day school at the age of six. Between January 1922 and 1926, Turing was educated at Hazelhurst Preparatory School.
  • In 1926, at the age of 13, he went on to Sherborne School, a boarding independent school in the market town of Sherborne in Dorset.
  • After Sherborne, Turing studied as an undergraduate from 1931 to 1934 at King’s College, Cambridge where he was awarded first-class honours in mathematics.
  • In 1936, Turing published his paper “On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem”.
  • Turing proved that his “universal computing machine” would be capable of performing any conceivable mathematical computation if it were representable as an algorithm.John von Neumann acknowledged that the central concept of the modern computer was due to Turing’s paper.
  • From September 1936 to July 1938, Turing spent most of his time studying under Church at Princeton University.
  • In addition to his purely mathematical work, he studied cryptology and also built three of four stages of an electro-mechanical binary multiplier.
  • In June 1938, he obtained his PhD from the Department of Mathematics at Princeton.
  • From September 1938, Turing had been working parttime with the Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS), the British codebreaking organisation.
  • He concentrated on cryptanalysis of the Enigma. On 4 September 1939, the day after the UK declared war on Germany, Turing reported to Bletchley Park, the wartime station of GC&CS.
  • Specifying the bombe was the first of five major cryptanalytical advances that Turing made during the war. In 1946, Turing was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) by King George VI for his wartime services, but his work remained secret for many years
  • Within weeks of arriving at Bletchley Park, Turing had specified an electromechanical machine called the bombe, which could break Enigma more effectively.
  • The first bombe was installed on 18 March 1940.They had tried to get more people and fund more bombes through the proper channels, but had failed.
  • n July 1942, Turing devised a technique termed Turingery for use against the Lorenz cipher messages produced by the Germans’ new Geheimschreiber (secret writer) machine.
  • Between 1945 and 1947, Turing lived in Hampton, London, while he worked on the design of the ACE (Automatic Computing Engine) at the National Physical Laboratory (NPL).
  • In 1948 Turing, working with his former undergraduate colleague, D.G. Champernowne, began writing a chess program for a computer that did not yet exist.
  • When Turing was 39 years old in 1951, he turned to mathematical biology, finally publishing his masterpiece “The Chemical Basis of Morphogenesis” in January 1952.
  • He was interested in morphogenesis, the development of patterns and shapes in biological organisms. He suggested that a system of chemicals reacting with each other and diffusing across space, termed a reaction-diffusion system, could account for “the main phenomena of morphogenesis”.
  • On 8 June 1954, Turing’s housekeeper found him dead at the age of 41; he had died the previous day. Cyanide poisoning was established as the cause of death.
  • When his body was discovered, an apple lay half-eaten beside his bed, and although the apple was not tested for cyanide, it was speculated that this was the means by which Turing had consumed a fatal dose.