Who Was Alan Turing?

Alan Turing (1912-1954) was a brilliant mathematician, World War II code-breaker, founder of computer science, philosopher and theoretical biologist.

His pre-war work laid down the theoretical plan for a programmable computer (“On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem”), and after the war he was closely involved in the design and programming of the world’s earliest computing machines. He designed the ACE (Automatic Computing Engine) built by the UK Government, wrote programming manuals, published papers on mathematical biology and founded the discipline of artificial intelligence.

© Science & Society Picture Library.

“Turing was a quite brilliant mathematician, most famous for his work on breaking the German Enigma codes… Without his outstanding contribution the history of the Second World War could have been very different.”

Prime Minister Gordon Brown, 10 September 2009

The Turing Trust is proud to commemorate Alan Turing’s remarkable contribution to the early years of computing by making computers available to less privileged communities in sub-Saharan Africa and by enabling volunteers in the UK to improve their own IT skills by preparing computers for use in schools.

The Turing Trust was set up by Alan Turing’s family, including his nephew Dermot and his great-nephew James, in memory of his name and legacy. With Alan’s name behind us we are helping to inspire the future of computer science by supporting people to learn vital digital skills.

“We can only see a short distance ahead, but we can see plenty there that needs to be done.”

Alan Turing: Computing, Machinery and Intelligence; 1950

Those who have heard of Alan will be aware of his intense intelligence as well as the horrific discrimination he faced later in life. However, not many people know about Alan Turing’s philanthropic side. Alan was a great believer in supporting those in need. During his life he sponsored the education of a World War II refugee at a time when he could scarcely afford to and also funded one of his foster family so that she could work in Africa.

Today we champion Alan’s name to continue his spirit of good will and bring the benefits of the digital revolution to those who need it most.

If you would like to know more about Alan Turing (from a non-mathematical perspective), one our Trustees, Dermot Turing, has spent years delving into his uncle’s life and offers a unique insight into his life. Or alternatively, if you like a challenge and have ever wondered whether you would have been chosen to work at Bletchley Park then check out the Alan Turing Cryptic Codebreaking Puzzle Book.

Click on the links below to find out more. Each purchase of any of these titles through these Amazon Affiliate links helps to fundraise for the Turing Trust.

Cover of Reflections of Alan Turing
Cover of The Alan Turing Codebreaker's PuzzleBook