Published July 15, 2019
The man who helped crack the infamous German "Enigma" encryption device during World War II and was a pioneer in the computing field will appear on the new 50-pound note in the U.K. — the same nation that prosecuted him for being gay.
Alan Turing worked in the secret Bletchley Park codebreaking center, where he created the "Turing bombe," a forerunner to modern computers that helped the British decrypt coded German communications. He also developed a test to measure artificial intelligence that's still relevant today, and built a prestigious career in British academia.
“I hope it will go some way to acknowledging his unprecedented contribution to society and science,” said former lawmaker John Leech, who previously led a campaign to posthumously pardon Turing. “But more importantly I hope it will serve as a stark and rightfully painful reminder of what we lost in Turing, and what we risk when we allow that kind of hateful ideology to win.”
After his conviction for homosexuality, Turing was forcibly treated with female hormones. Two years later he died after eating an apple laced with cyanide.
In 2017, the U.K. passed legislation called "Turing's Law" to posthumously pardon thousands of men convicted under old homosexuality restrictions.
Turing received a posthumous royal pardon in 2013.
The new note, which will enter circulation in 2021 and feature technical drawings and a quote from Turing, is the last denomination of the pound to be switched from paper to a more secure polymer. Author Jane Austen and artist J.M.W Turner appear on the previously updated 10- and 20-pound notes.