British computer pioneer Alan Turing on a renewed 50-pound note

He made an important contribution to defeating the German occupiers in World War II, but was subsequently forced to undergo chemical castration because of his sexual orientation. The British computer pioneer and mathematician Alan Turing, who died in 1954, can be seen from 2021 on the renewed British banknote of fifty pounds. The Bank of England, the central bank of the United Kingdom, announced this on Monday.

During World War II, the code cracker worked at Bletchley Park, the secret base of the British, with the British intelligence service. Together with his team, Turing, in addition to being a mathematician and expert in the field of artificial intelligence, managed to crack the German Enigma code.

Yet during his life Turing received little appreciation in his home country. Seven years after the end of the war, he was persecuted for having a relationship with another man. Because homosexuality was still prohibited in the UK in the 1950s, Turing was convicted. A form of chemical castration was imposed on him by means of an experimental hormone cure. In 1954, the then 41-year-old mathematician died by eating an apple containing the toxic substance cyanide.

Rehabilitation for Turing did not follow until the turn of the century, when in 2009 the British government officially apologized for how the mathematician had been treated by the legal system. The rehabilitation was not complete until 2013, when Turing was granted grace in the name of the British queen. The following year the biographical film The Imitation Game was published in which Benedict Cumberbatch played the role of the mathematician. The actor was already calling for Turing’s portrait on the British currency: “He should be on stamps. On banknotes. He should be in history books. ”

Twelve names were on the shortlist for the new fifty note. The choice for Turing was ultimately made by the head of the British central bank, said the British newspaper The Guardian on Monday. The ten and twenty-pound notes have recently been redesigned, on those notes are the portraits of author Jane Austen and painter J.M.W. Turner.

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