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Alan Turing: Genius WWII Enigma Code Breaker, Father of the Computer, Prosecuted For Being Gay By UK Gov, Suicide

Alan Turing would have been 100 years old on June 23, 2012. He saved more lives in WWII than any other single person. And you likely have never heard of him....because he was gay.

He was responsible for the Enigma code being broken in WWI, was a mathematical genius, and is recognized as one of the principle founders of the modern computer. He was also arrested and prosecuted by the British government for being gay in 1952. He committed suicide in 1954 at the age of 41. In 2009 the British government issued a formal apology for the way they treated Turing after the war.

Turing pitted machine against machine. The prototype model of his anti-Enigma "bombe", named simply Victory, was installed in the spring of 1940.

His bombes turned Bletchley Park into a codebreaking factory. As early as 1943 Turing's machines were cracking a staggering total of 84,000 Enigma messages each month - two messages every minute.

Turing personally broke the form of Enigma that was used by the U-boats preying on the North Atlantic merchant convoys.

It was a crucial contribution. The convoys set out from North America loaded with vast cargoes of essential supplies for Britain, but the U-boats' torpedoes were sinking so many of the ships that Churchill's analysts said Britain would soon be starving.

"The only thing that ever really frightened me during the war was the U-boat peril," Churchill said later.

Just in time, Turing and his group succeeded in cracking the U-boats' communications to their controllers in Europe. With the U-boats revealing their positions, the convoys could dodge them in the vast Atlantic waste.

Turing stands alongside Churchill, Eisenhower, and a short glory-list of other wartime principals as a leading figure in the Allied victory over Hitler. There should be a statue of him in London among Britain's other leading war heroes.

Some historians estimate that Bletchley Park's massive codebreaking operation, especially the breaking of U-boat Enigma, shortened the war in Europe by as many as two to four years.

At a conservative estimate, each year of the fighting in Europe brought on average about seven million deaths, so the significance of Turing's contribution can be roughly quantified in terms of the number of additional lives that might have been lost if he had not achieved what he did.

If U-boat Enigma had not been broken, and the war had continued for another two to three years, a further 14 to 21 million people might have been killed.

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Added: Jun-19-2012 
By: gregsto
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Tags: alan turing, wwII, codebreaker, enigma, gay, rposecuted, suicide, mathmetician
Location: United Kingdom (UK/GB) (load item map)
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