In Sackville Gardens, in Manchester’s gay village, stands a statue in the memory of Alan Turing. Sculpted by Glyn Hughes and unveiled in 2001, the inscription on this memorial reads:
“Father of computer science, mathematician, logician, wartime codebreaker, victim of prejudice”.
Alan Turing (1912-1954) was a pioneering mathematician, computer scientist, philosopher, and code-breaker. Described as a genius and a Renaissance man, his studies on the limits of proof and computation would inspire the concept of modern computers. He was also key on the deciphering of German codes during the Second World War, and created the first detailed design of a stored-program computer.
In 1948 Turing was appointed reader in the Mathematics Department at the Victoria University of Manchester, and became Deputy Director of the Computing Machine Laboratory a year later. He worked on software for one of the earliest stored-program computers, The Manchester Mark 1 and was recruited as a consultant in the development of the Ferranti Mark 1. On this computer, he tried to implement a chess program of his own creation.
In 1950, in his paper “Computing, Machinery, and Intelligence” Turing addressed the problem of artificial intelligence, stating that a computer could be said to “think” as a human if a human could not tell it apart, through conversation, from a human being.
Turing continued to live in Manchester and, in 1952, he started a relationship with Arnold Murray. When Turing’s house was burgled and Murray informed him that he and the burglar were acquainted, Turing reported the crime to the police. During the investigation, he acknowledged a sexual relationship with Murray. Homosexual acts were in the UK at that time, and both men were charged. Turing entered a plea of guilty, and accepted chemical castration treatment as an alternative to prison. This treatment caused severe side effects.
Turing’s conviction led to the removal of his security clearance and prevented him from continuing his cryptographic consultancy to the Government Communications Headquarters. In 1954, he was found dead from cyanide poisoning at his Manchester home.
After years of public campaigns, Alan Turing was officially pronounced pardoned from his conviction for “gross indecency” in 2014. In 2017, the British government expanded the retroactive exoneration to other men convicted of similar historical indecency offences. This law is informally known as “Alan Turing Law”.
LGBT+ History Month is celebrated throughout the month of February in the UK. This event aims to promote tolerance and increase the visibility of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, as well as members of the LGBT+ community of other genders and sexual orientations, their history, lives and experiences.
As part of the LGBT+ History Month, Spectrum 3D Services would like to take the opportunity to share 3D models of monuments dedicated to some LGBT+ historical figures, as well as their stories.