Alan Turing is one of the most well-known codebreakers to have worked at Bletchley Park, partly due to the Oscar nominated film, The Imitation Game. For the early part of the war he was head of Hut 8, working on decrypting the German Naval Enigma. During this time he designed the famous Bombe machine which would help speed up the process of decrypting Enigma and arguably paved the way for the first computer to be built by other codebreakers at Bletchley Park.
This is an information sheet developed by the Bletchley Park Trust as a starting point for anyone wishing to find out more about Alan Turing. Many of the questions in the following sections have been submitted to us by students of all ages.
Frequently Asked Questions
At the time of Turing’s death suicide was a crime, so the phrase committed suicide was commonly used. Suicide was not decriminalised in England until 1961 when gradually society had recognised that such actions may occur as a result of illness and not a crime. Contemporary society has a more compassionate understanding towards mental illness and individual circumstances, preferring to use the word ‘suicide’ or the phrase ‘taken their own life’. It is recognised that mental pain can be very distressing, and in society we need to care for both our mental and physical health.
Books and Documents
- Ralph Erskine and Michael Smith (eds.), Action This Day: Bletchley Park from the breaking of the Enigma Code to the birth of the modern computer (2001).
- Andrew Hodges, Alan Turing: The Enigma (1983).
- David Kahn, Seizing the Enigma: The Race to Break the German U-Boat Codes 1939-43 (1991).
- Alan Turing, ‘Computing Machinery and Intelligence’ in Mind Vol.LIX, ISS.236 (1950), http://bit.ly/ComputingMachinery*
- Alan Turing, ‘On Computable Numbers, With an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem’ (1937) http://bit.ly/ComputableNumbers*
- Dermot Turing, Prof: Alan Turing Decoded (2015).
- Dermot Turing, Alan Turing: The Life of a Genius (2017).
On the web
- More information on Alan Turing, including pictures, scans and transcripts of original documents related to Turing. http://bit.ly/AH_AlanTuring* including a copy of his sentence (original held at Cheshire archives) http://bit.ly/AH_TuringSentence*
- More documents related to Alan Turing can also be found in the digital Turing archive http://bit.ly/TuringArchive*
- For more information about Turing’s Bombe machines and why they were needed. http://bit.ly/Google_Bombe*
- For interviews with veterans, some mention Alan Turing and his work, have a look at Bletchley’s podcasts. http://bit.ly/BP_Podcasts.
- The Bletchley Park site can be explored on google maps to give an idea of the location of buildings mentioned in this document. http://bit.ly/Googlemap_BP*
Web links marked with an asterisk (*) are not provided, edited or maintained by the Bletchley Park Trust which therefore cannot take responsibility for either the continued availability or accuracy of the information provided. Web links, images, and text contained within this document are intended to provide a starting point for future research and do not constitute an academic source. Any information obtained from these pages must be corroborated by further research elsewhere before including in any research projects or other academic work.