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Alan Mathison Turing — English mathematician, logician and philosopher who made important advancements in the field of computer theory and who contributed important logical analyses of computer processes. In an unfortunate end to his prolific career,
Turing was arrested in 1952 after British authorities found out he was having a relationship with another man. Under British law, homosexuality was a crime, and it resulted in Turing losing his security clearance to continue his work at Bletchley Park. Rather than face a life in prison, Turing accepted treatment of regular estrogen injections, which were believed to neutralize libido. On 8 June 1954, Turing died of potassium cyanide poisoning while conducting electrolysis experiments. The cyanide was found on a half eaten apple beside him. An inquest concluded that it was self-administered but his mother always maintained that it was an accident. In 2013, a bill was passed offering statutory pardon to Turing for offences under section 11 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885. In 2016, the law (known as Turing’s law) was widened to retroactively pardon all men who were convicted under the historical legislation of gross indecency.
ALAN TURING – TIMELINE
1912 (23 June): Birth, Paddington, London.
1926-31: Sherborne School.
1930: Death of friend Christopher Morcom.
1931-34: Undergraduate at King’s College, Cambridge University.
1932-35: Quantum mechanics, probability, logic. Fellow of King’s College, Cambridge.
1936: The Turing machine, computability, universal machine.
1936-38: Princeton University. Ph.D. Logic, algebra, number theory.
1938-39: Return to Cambridge. Introduced to German Enigma cipher machine.
1939-40: The Bombe, machine for Enigma decryption.
1939-42: Breaking of U-boat Enigma, saving battle of the Atlantic.
1943-45: Chief Anglo-American crypto consultant. Electronic work.
1945: National Physical Laboratory, London.
1946: Computer and software design leading the world.
1947-48: Programming, neural nets, and artificial intelligence.
1948: Manchester University, first serious mathematical use of a computer.
1950: The Turing Test for machine intelligence.
1951: Elected FRS. Non-linear theory of biological growth.
1952: Arrested as a homosexual, loss of security clearance.
1953-54: Unfinished work in biology and physics.
1954 (7 June): Death (suicide) by cyanide poisoning, Wilmslow, Cheshire.