Alan Turing, a WWII codebreaker and considered the father of the modern computer, will appear on Britain’s new £50 note, the Bank of England announced on Monday.
The design will feature a photo of Turing taken in 1951, the “British Bombe” machine that helped crack the Germans’ Enigma code system and ticker tape that spells out Turing’s birthday. The bill will also include Turing’s quote, “This is only a foretaste of what is to come and only the shadow of what is going to be.” The note will be printed on polymer and will go into circulation in 2021.
Patrick Sammon, the filmmaker of the 2011 Turing documentary “Codebreaker,” praised the announcement. “This is great news.. It’s really wonderful that Alan Turing is being recognized in this way. He was one of a kind. He helped change the world. It’s an enduring tragedy that the British government destroyed his life because he was gay. Hopefully having his face on the 50 pound note will allow more people to appreciate his life and remember his legacy,” Sammon told the Washington Blade.
The Bank of England received 227,299 total nominations for 989 eligible candidates who had contributed to the field of science. A committee narrowed down the list to 12 scientists, and Bank of England governor Mark Carney made Turing the final selection.
Turing’s codebreaking helped crack the encryptions of the German Enigma machine and was an integral part of ending World War II. He also is credited for pioneering modern computers with “The Turing Test,” an algorithm that has a computer mimic human-like responses to determine the computer’s intelligence. The test was a starting point for artificial intelligence used in the present day.
While his professional life was filled with achievements, his personal life was riddled with trauma. Turing was convicted for gross indecency for homosexuality in 1952 for having a relationship with a 19-year-old man. He was pardoned from the conviction in 2013.
Turing died of cyanide poisoning in 1954 at the age of 41. The death was ruled a suicide.
“The Imitation Game,” starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Turing, chronicled the scientist’s life.