Alan Turing (1912 - 1954)
A brilliant English mathematician, philosopher, visionary and codebreaker, Alan Turing was a seminal figure in the computer revolution.
While one of many pioneers, he was the first to conceive of a ‘Cyberworlds’ and his theory remains a foundation of computer science. He was one of the first to explore the idea that machines could think.
During World War II he applied his ideas on computing to breaking German codes. Many regarded this contribution as crucial to the Allied victory.
Colossus - electronic codebreaker
The Germans developed cipher machines that were even more sophisticated than the Enigma. To help decipher these, the codebreakers at Bletchley Park designed a high-speed, electronic machine called Colossus. It was a forerunner of the computer. Colossus deciphered many secret messages. It confirmed Turing’s belief that a computer was not just for arithmetic, but had universal applications. Photo: Colossus, by permission of the Controller of Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, UK
Enigma cipher machine
This Enigma machine was used by the German army to encipher and decipher secret radio messages during World War II. The entire German military depended on machines like this. British and American ships, whether civilian or naval, were menaced by Hitler’s U-boats, which received their operating orders through Enigma machines. This caused the loss of many lives. Cracking the Enigma became a top priority for Allied codebreakers.