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The DEV Team

DEV Pride & Alan Turing: The Father of Modern Computing

dev.to staff
The hardworking team behind dev.to ❤️
・3 min read

Today, June 23, would be the 109th birthday of Alan Turing: brilliant English mathematician, computer scientist, and crypto-analyst who made some truly remarkable contributions to the field we all love.

It's especially meaningful and poignant that Turing was born in June — a month that many countries now recognize as LGBTQIA+ Pride Month. That's because in addition to being a groundbreaking thinker and computer scientist, Alan Turing also happened to be a gay man born into a country that (like far too many) didn't decriminalize homosexuality until the late 1960s.

Turing died at the age of 41 shortly after being abused at the hands of his own government and convicted as a criminal for his sexuality. Not only was Alan Turing's life cut violently short, but his dazzling accomplishments were stripped away, his reputation tarnished.

That's why each year during his birth month, we celebrate the life and legacy of Alan Turing. As a community of code-obsessed people, we know you'll love reading about a few of his inventions and history-making projects as much as we do...

Decoding the Encryption of Nazi "Enigma" Machines

During World War II, Turing worked in a high position with Britain’s code-breakers at Bletchley Park. He helped create the original design for the "bombe": an electro-mechanical device to help decipher German Enigma-machine-encrypted secret messages during World War II. This work helped reveal critical Nazi submarine pathways, contributing to the Allied forces eventual success.

The "Turing Test"

In 1950, Turing published a thought experiment to explore whether or not a computer could pass as a human being. The "Turing Test" required a human aid to pose questions to determine if the responses came from a computer or a human. While the test eventually revealed weaknesses, it became an critical milestone in the history of artificial intelligence.

Delilah: A Portable Secure Voice Communications Machine

During his time at Bletchley Park, Turing also During this period, Turing also created the "Delilah" — a portable machine that could encode a voice message securely and is considered decades ahead of its time.

Note: You can read a complete a transcription of Turing's Delilah report here.

... and much more. For an amazing and detailed look at Alan Turing's life, this obituary from The New York Times' "Overlooked" collection is worth a read.

What Alan Turing's Life Can Teach Us About Pride

Despite obvious accomplishments and service to his country, Alan Turing's life and work was cut short due to bigoted views about his sexuality. It's too easy to look at black and white photos of figures like Turing and convince ourselves that these human atrocities took place in a bygone era that has no relationship to this current moment.

But the truth is, Turing's conviction for "indecency" was just 69 years ago. A relative speck of time.

As software developers, it is, of course, our duty to never let what happened to Alan Turing happen again. But it's also important to continuously celebrate the joy and genius of LGBTQIA+ technologists willing to share their authentic lives with us. As a future-oriented field, technology depends on the participation, safety, and empowerment of all people, regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, religion, or sexual-orientation.


DEV Pride

You might remember that earlier this month, we shared the following message on DEV:

In the article, we invited our LGBTQIA+ community members to share their unique perspectives about and contributions to technology right here.

In honor of Alan Turing's birthday and Pride Month, we'd like to share a few of those articles with you today...

@krismally

@mordypython

@baenencalin

@jrohatiner

@programazing

If you would like to share a story with us in honor of Pride Month, we would love to read it. Just use the tag #devpride so we can find it or use this template as a jumping off point.

Happy Pride and Happy Birthday, Alan Turing!

🏳️‍🌈

Discussion (13)

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aminmansuri profile image
hidden_dude

I'd argue that Turing's most important contribution to Computer Science was probably his Universal Turing Machine. It's a theoretical construct today that lays at the heart of computational theory and was totally revolutionary in the 1930s in its implications for mathematics as a whole.

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cenacr007_harsh profile image
KUMAR HARSH

I watched the movie "The Imitation Game" on Alan Turing and it was remarkable.

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sidthedev profile image
Siddharth Chaudhary (he/him)

It’s a nice movie

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cenacr007_harsh profile image
KUMAR HARSH

Sure is and Bennedict has outdone himself in that movie.

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sidthedev profile image
Siddharth Chaudhary (he/him)

I saw it too ages ago

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jrohatiner profile image
Judith

I love you Dev.to. I feel like finally, we have the right to REALLY live out loud. The courage to say what you mean and advocate for human rights is most impressive!
Together we rise,
J

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graciegregory profile image
Gracie Gregory (she/her)

❤️

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leewynne profile image
Lee Wynne

🌈🌈🌈🌈🌈🌈

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sidthedev profile image
Siddharth Chaudhary (he/him)

Happy pride month!

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mordypython profile image
mordy-python • Edited

This is really great! dev.to is providing a safe place for us and for that I'm really happy. :)

Thanks Dev,
Robyn

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sidthedev profile image
Siddharth Chaudhary (he/him)

🏳️‍🌈 🏳️‍🌈 🏳️‍🌈 🏳️‍🌈 🏳️‍🌈 🏳️‍🌈

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sidthedev profile image
Siddharth Chaudhary (he/him) • Edited

Happy birthday Alan Turing!

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qm3ster profile image
Mihail Malo

Okay, but what is dev.to's official stance on the circumstances of his death?