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Alan Turing working on the Ferranti Mark I Computer, 1951 Turing, Alan Mathison (1912-1954)

Alan Turing was the first man to propose building an intelligent machine to recreate thought - in short, the computer.

Turing grew up in a number of foster homes and the lack of a loving environment encouraged his imagination. Following boarding school, he received a fellowship from King's College Cambridge, where he remained as a tutor.

In 1937 he first proposed his ideas for the computer, which caused a stir in scientific circles, but when the war became everyone's main preoccupation in 1939 Turing joined the government's top-secret codebreaking operation at Bletchley Park. Here he helped to crack the German's 'Enigma' code.

After the war he worked on two projects to build computers but both were hampered by bureaucracy. Meantime he expanded his computing ideas and proposed the notion of artificial intelligence in the 'Turing Machine'.

In 1952 Turing was prosecuted for being homosexual, which was outlawed in those days. Although spared prison, he became depressed by the side-effects of his treatment and tragically killed himself aged 41.

fun and games

Can you beat our games? Explode equipment to see what's inside, hear the changing sounds of telecommunications, see how telecommunications designs have changed over time or send an e-postacard.

what's on

The UK's first permanent gallery dedicated to the history of information and communication technologies opens in the new Information Age gallery at London’s Science Museum.

audio history

Take a trip down memory lane with extracts of the interviews which have been recorded as part of the Connected Earth oral history programme.

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100 years of automatic switching!
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