DEV Community

Cover image for Alan Turing to Feature on New £50 Note
Andrew (he/him)
Andrew (he/him)

Posted on

Alan Turing to Feature on New £50 Note

Second World War codebreaker Alan Turing will be the face of the new £50 note, the Bank of England announced on Monday.

The renowned mathematician, considered to be the father of the modern computer and credited by Winston Churchill for making “the single biggest contribution to the allied victory” in the Second World War, will adorn the latest version of the UK’s highest-denomination banknote which is expected to enter circulation in 2021.


In 1952, Turing was infamously accused of -- and convicted for -- "gross indecency" for homosexual acts. He was given a choice between prison or chemical castration and chose the latter. Two years later, at age 41, he committed suicide with cyanide.

Despite repeated petitions, the U.K. for a long while refused to pardon Turing...

A posthumous pardon was not considered appropriate as Alan Turing was properly convicted of what at the time was a criminal offence. He would have known that his offence was against the law and that he would be prosecuted. It is tragic that Alan Turing was convicted of an offence that now seems both cruel and absurd—particularly poignant given his outstanding contribution to the war effort. However, the law at the time required a prosecution and, as such, long-standing policy has been to accept that such convictions took place and, rather than trying to alter the historical context and to put right what cannot be put right, ensure instead that we never again return to those times.

-- U.K. Justice Minister Lord McNally

...though they eventually relented and Turing was officially pardoned by Queen Elizabeth II on 24 December 2013.

Top comments (7)

ben profile image
Ben Halpern

When my mom saw a commercial for The Imitation Game and I told her all about Turing, she said “wow they should give him some kind of Nobel Prize for computers!”

I told her there is a sort of Nobel prize for computer science and it’s called the Turing Award. 😄

andrew profile image
Andrew O'Rourke • Edited

@awwsmm It's worth mentioning that the UK government did indeed posthumously pardon Alan Turing on the 24th December 2013!

awwsmm profile image
Andrew (he/him)

Thanks for the heads-up! Fixed the post!

thefern profile image
Fernando B 🚀

Is insane to me after all he did in WW2 how he was treated afterwards. Just mind boggling.

stereobooster profile image

I didn't know that. How I missed it...

evanoman profile image
Evan Oman • Edited

Great to see more public recognition of Turing's accomplishments.

For those who have only seen the film The Imitation Game, I highly recommend you check out the Turing biography by Hodges.

The movie goes beyond typical errors and makes some major mischaracterizations, as outlined here. Such a complicated, important figure deserves better than what the movie had to offer (no matter how entertaining it was).

thefern profile image
Fernando B 🚀 • Edited

As a controls engineer the movie was portrayed so bad on the mechanical/electrical side, the movie attempted to portray Turing as the sole code breaker of Enigma. I forget which book I read, but the Polish actually did the first breakthroughs on the Enigma which Turing built upon. I don't think they would have ever broke the code without all the cribs military used like weather, dates, and military salutations.

The work to break enigma was written in blood by all the Polish code breakers, and there was a german spy in France which helped with supplementing the code books to Poland. The movie did a horrible job in research, sadly. Germany figured out about Poland's work, and created the new version of enigma with more rotating wheels, and patch cables to make it even harder.

Nevertheless Turing is one of my idols in computing I have a few books about him.