Patrick Keady

What I learned about Alan Turing, code-breaker and the father of computer science





On Tuesday, I visited Code Breaker: Alan Turing’s Life and Legacy, at the Science Museum in London.  

What struck me most, was that it took such a long time for him to be more fully appreciated for his valuable contributions to the World we live in today.


Shortly after his death, The Royal Society wrote about him, that “three remarkable papers written just before the war, on three diverse mathematical subjects, show the quality of the work that might have been produced if he had settled down to work on some big problem at that critical time. For his work at the Foreign Office he was awarded the OBE”.  


Alan Turing died of cyanide poisoning on 8th June 1954 and a half-eaten apple was found next to his body.


While The Royal Society seems to have been slow in recognising the impact of his contributions on the World, others have been more generous to Alan Turning.


It turns out that without Turing’s contributions, I would probably would not be able to post this article online and you would not be able to receive my newsletters via email. 


Alan Turing is widely considered to be the father of computer science and artificial intelligence.


In the 59 years since his death, Turing has been recognised many times and here are just a few examples :


       a stretch of the A6010 in Manchester is named “Alan Turing Way” and a bridge on the same road is named the “Alan Turing Bridge”.

       a statue of Turing standing in Manchester depicts the “father of computer science, mathematician, logician, wartime codebreaker, victim of prejudice”.

       Time Magazine named him as one of the 100 most important people of the 20th century.

       he was voted twenty-first on a BBC nationwide poll of the 100 greatest Britons.

       Steve Jobs is said to have responded “God, we wish it were” when asked if the bite mark on the “Apple” logo was a tribute to Alan Turing.

So, what did I learn from Code Breaker: Alan Turing’s Life and Legacy at the Science Museum in London.  On the one hand it is simple and on the other hand it can be motivating too.

If your colleagues and patients don’t appear to fully appreciate your contributions today, then think of Alan Turing – because just like him, your colleagues will probably appreciate you more as the weeks, months and years go by.

What do you think ?  Please enter your thoughs below.


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