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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)
Views: 1379 | Comments: 57 | Votes: 1 | Favorites: 0 | Shared: 0 | Updates: 0 | Times used in channels: 1
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  • Alan Turing is certainly not an obscure figure in this British household. It's no great secret that the British now know more about Turing than they do about Churchill or Montgomery; mostly because Bletchley Park was a secret for so long, it's only after "some" of the history of Bletchley was leaked out that the real history of Turing was known (some of the workings there are still classified today).

    If you were to tell the whole story of the saving of lives and the immense shortening More..

    Posted Jun-19-2012 By 

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  • Bravo gregsto , bravo for the posting . Besides Georg Cantor , and Kurt Godel , Alan Turing was one of the most brilliant mathematicians of the last 4 centuries ( IMO ) . The fact he was hounded for being gay , is a stain upon British society of that time .

    Posted Jun-19-2012 By 

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  • This man did so much to aid the allied war effort and should have been knighted for his contribution. He helped in his work to save countless allied servicemens lives, he was then treated disgracefully. Britain should hang it's head in shame.

    Posted Jun-19-2012 By 

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    • @Bawbag

      Yeah, blame that society 50 years ago for not having the same attitude toward gayness we have today. Remember, it was a mental disease by their standards at the time.

      Posted Jun-19-2012 By 

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    • @joe prole To Michelle Bachmanns husband, it still is.

      Posted Jun-19-2012 By 

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    • Comment of user 'fido321' has been deleted by author (after account deletion)!
    • @joe prole "Yeah, blame that society 50 years ago for not having the same attitude toward gayness we have today."

      Hopefully the attitude you speak of does not include YOU in that 'we'...since your attitude sucks..

      Posted Jun-20-2012 By 

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  • I fairly close to bletchley park (@50 miles) the things that went on there are still only just being appreciated, it was a genius haven it's just a pity it was ended after the war as many developments in technology could have happened there.
    The point of this article i think is to say never dismiss the non regular members of society they may surprise the world

    Posted Jun-19-2012 By 

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  • While he did work at Bletchley, he was not responsible for the Enigma code being broken. He was one of many that worked on it and actually the Polish broke the code and gave a working enigma machine they reverse engineered to England when the Germans invaded. Turing's machine did not decode messages, it helped get the settings for Enigma machines. He was important but this is an exeragion of his contribution.

    Posted Jun-19-2012 By 

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    • @onepercent Right you are regarding the Polish being the first to "break" the Enigma code, or more accurately the first to develop a system that would find the correct ever changing settings of the Enigma, which essentially 'decoded' the message.

      However Turing DID develop a machine which discovered these settings far more quickly...and discovering the settings IS decoding the message.

      Within weeks of arriving at Bletchley Park, Turing had specified an electromechanical machine that More..

      Posted Jun-20-2012 By 

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  • I've heard of him because I overcame being educated in a public school. His sexual deviancy has nothing to do with his work.

    Posted Jun-19-2012 By 

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  • The words genius & hero are overused. In relation to Turing, they are an understatement.
    .
    .
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    The teams of codebreakers were chosen by the rather ingenious method of contacting those who had succesfully completed the (fiendishly difficult) Times competition crossword.

    Posted Jun-19-2012 By 

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  • Don't forget J. Edgar Hoover

    Posted Jun-19-2012 By 

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  • Some rather bold statements there, like "saved more ... than any single person" and "Never heard of".

    This is nothing more than a failed attempt at laying a guilt trip on society. Instead of honoring the man, you do him great injustice by putting his 'gayness' on a pedestal so all straights may pay homage.

    Posted Jun-19-2012 By 

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    • Comment of user 'fido321' has been deleted by author (after account deletion)!
    • @fido321

      Again, failed attempt at attacking straights.

      The guy was a genius, and he was gay. So what?

      Posted Jun-19-2012 By 

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    • Comment of user 'fido321' has been deleted by author (after account deletion)!
    • @fido321

      LOL. Nice try troll. Go play with your gerbils.

      Posted Jun-19-2012 By 

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    • Comment of user 'fido321' has been deleted by author (after account deletion)!
  • Brilliant man. I programmed in Turing and later Turing Plus at the University of Toronto. OK it was a variant of Pascal but still cool.

    Posted Jun-19-2012 By 

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  • This is ancient news that's been discussed ad nauseam for a decade.
    Why not dredge up every old controversy for the past 2000 years?
    Then we'll do the same thing every year.

    Posted Jun-20-2012 By 

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  • He made the right choice.

    Posted Jun-20-2012 By 

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  • Bletchley Park is only 10 mins from my house. Sadly I have only been there once in the 30+ years of living here. Worth a visit though, £10 to get in and they give you an annual pass for that £10 (excluding special open days).

    I really should make a point of going again soon. Doubt the place will last much longer.

    Posted Jun-20-2012 By 

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  • ffs. adding that music fucked up the audio.

    Posted Jun-19-2012 By 

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  • All above i a bullshit. There is a real story http://culture.polishsite.us/articles/art207fr.htm - ENIGMA was broken and passed to BRITISH by POLISH INTELLIGENCE before the war. Later on Brits left POLAND with nohelp after joined german-russian agression in 1939 !

    Posted Aug-13-2012 By 

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  • Comment of user 'FrankFrimann' has been deleted by author (after account deletion)!
  • Don't understand it, but thankfully he did!

    Posted Jun-19-2012 By 

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  • Im confused.
    I assume he was part of the team, that worked with what the british ship (cant remember class) "Bulldog" , found in the that german submarine they forced to surface in 44' ?

    And not the Pole, who magically cracked it in 39' ? As we've been reading lately...

    I really understand what "The victor writes the history" means, when every other month a new version of sometimes a new story will emerge.
    And the sh!t i read in history books 10 years ago, has been outdated More..

    Posted Jun-19-2012 By 

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    • @MajorMalfunction There are many permutations that could be made about Enigma and it's breaking. When all is said and done, only the British could see it through and go on to break ever increasing complexities that the nazis introduced.

      Posted Jun-19-2012 By 

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    • @MajorMalfunction

      This is the revisionist version where the gay guy saves the world single-handedly.

      Posted Jun-19-2012 By 

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    • @joe prole Are you always this big of a moronic douche, or do you sometimes not say one stupid self-embarrassing thing after another?

      Posted Jun-20-2012 By 

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    • @CargeLock Yeah you're right. Its kinda like when BBC documentaries say the Germans didnt have radar during the war. Dont get me wrong, im not saying we cant update what we thought, if its proven to be wrong. But its kinda crappy, when a great topic like WW2, is simply becomming a cheap fake propaganda story, sugarcoated by whoever.
      But good day to you Sir.

      Posted Jun-20-2012 By 

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    • @joe prole Hahaha i laughed hard when i saw your comment ! Thanks

      Posted Jun-20-2012 By 

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  • dude was kinda gay...

    Posted Jun-19-2012 By 

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  • no 1 gangster. he was a bit naive though.. he sort of dobbed himself in.

    Posted Jun-19-2012 By 

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  • Comment of user 'fido321' has been deleted by author (after account deletion)!
  • Its a shame someone who helped win the war turned out to be a queer. Maybe next time they'll screen a little better.

    Posted Jun-19-2012 By 

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  • dude was a straight up paedophile and we're supposed to think that breaking a code gives him the right to sodomize young boys. Fuck that, the queer should have been publicly hung by his tiny little balls. I suppose in fifty year they will pardon Jerry Sandusky as well. That will not make right the horror he pumped into all those little boys.

    Posted Jun-19-2012 By 

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    • Comment of user 'fido321' has been deleted by author (after account deletion)!
    • Comment of user 'fido321' has been deleted by author (after account deletion)!
    • @tonkoo You special idiot....your comment is so moronic that refuting its falsehoods is pointless.

      Posted Jun-20-2012 By 

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    • @gregsto Yeah his victim was 15. Nowadays if an older straight man has sex with a 15 year old girl he is thrown in jail and branded a sex offender the rest of his life. But if you are gay then having sex with kids is OK?

      Posted Jun-20-2012 By 

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    • @tonkoo Turing was not a pedophile you dumb fucking twat. Nor was he ever accused of being one...until your stupid ass showed up of course. There was no "victim" here...other than Turing. he was not charged with sexually assaulting anyone.

      Homosexuality was illegal at the time, and after acknowledging he had engaged in homosexual acts while reporting a burglary at his home he was arrested and charged with “gross indecency”, a crime then punishable by a maximum of two years impris More..

      Posted Jun-21-2012 By 

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  • He shouldn't have been a fag then...

    Posted Jun-19-2012 By 

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  • Big Fucking Deal.

    I am so sick and fucking tired of hearing about homosexuals and their fucking problems...FUCK OFF AND SUCK A DICK!!!NO ONE CARES!

    Posted Jun-19-2012 By 

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    • Comment of user 'Rikki_Tikki_Tavi' has been deleted by author (after account deletion)!