Alan Turing

Member of The Hundred

Alan Turing
Birth and death
1912 - 1954
Profession details
Mathematician, Logician, Cryptanalyst, Computer Scientist
Related place
Alistair Grant and Joanna Tapp

Alan Turing (1912-1954) mathematician, logician, cryptanalyst, and computer scientist. Turing is the father of modern computer science, formalising the concept of the algorithm and computation with the Turing Machine, thus founding the modern computer. 'Time Magazine' named Turing one of the hundred most influential people of the twentieth century.

Turing was also a code-breaker during World War Two. He played a key role in cracking the naval Enigma codes - thought to be unbreakable -giving Britain a strong military advantage from 1941-2.

A keen amateur athlete, and from 1945 to 1947, whilst working at the National Physical Laboratory, he ran regularly for Walton Athletic Club. He set records in the three and ten mile championships and came fifth in the A.A.A. Marathon of 1947, almost qualifying for the British team in the 1948 Olympic games.

J. F. Harding, Secretary of Walton Athletic Club, describes meeting Turing in Walton in the 1940s:

'We heard rather than saw him. He made a terrible grunting noise when he was running, but before we could say anything to him, he was past us like a shot out of a gun. A couple of nights later, we kept up with him long enough for me to ask him who he ran for. When he said nobody, we invited him to join Walton. He did, and immediately became our best runner".

...I asked him one day why he punished himself so much in training. He told me: "I have such a stressful job that the only way I can get it out of my mind is by running hard; it's the only way I can get some release."'

(Transcript courtesy of Walton Athletic Club and Phil Cox © 2007)

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