Ruminations on the electronics industry from David Manners, Senior Components Editor on Electronics Weekly.

Turing Archive Saved

The dark side of the English psyche was exposed by the country’s treatment of Alan Turing.


The mathematical genius who, more than any other, made the breaking of the German Enigma coding machine possible, was convicted of gross indecency with a man and offered the choice of prison or chemical castration by the injection of female hormones. He chose the latter.


The government then withdrew his security clearance barring him from further work.


He committed suicide two years later.


There have been official attempts to apologise and reconcile.


When he was Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, said: “On behalf of the British government, I am very proud to say: We’re sorry, you deserved so much better.”


Now part of Turing’s archive has been bought for the nation to be kept at BletchleyPark where the code-breaking was head-quartered.


£500,000 was needed to stop the papers being sold abroad.


A fund was set up to raise the money. Google contributed $100,000.


“Turing is a hero to many of us at Google for his pioneering work on algorithms and the development of computer science,” said Google’s spokesman.


The National Heritage Memorial Fund came up with £213,437 to clinch the purchase to keep the archive in the country – without which it would most likely have gone to the USA.


America has always given Turing more honour than England ever did.


In 1999, Time chose Turing as one of the 100 Most Important People of the 20th Century.

Tags: computer science, female hormones, google, national heritage memorial fund, psyche

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  1. Eric Janson
    March 02, 2011 13:50

    Strong second to your proposal, Ancient 2! For those who have not yet been, a visit to Bletchley Park is well worth the effort. Tours are often given by people who were actively working on code- breaking projects, so visit soon while they are still there and healthy enough to be heard from. First- hand accounts are like nothing else you can experience.

  2. ancient2
    March 01, 2011 14:00

    people who try to profit by selling british cultural heritage abroad make me sick, The most logical home for these papers is Bletchley Park, the seller in my opinion is a selfish exploiter whose perfectly happy to denude the cultural wealth of his own country for a profit, A paperwork of this nature would normally be donated to a national collection, certainly that would have been the case in times past, sadly we live in a more corrupt britain in which people can only think of themselves. And that is why this country has sunk under the weight of private selfishness.

  3. Geoff
    March 01, 2011 11:32

    there is a documentary/film on the way…which should be good.