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Alan Turing

Alan Turing

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Published by: vamsidhargali on Mar 04, 2012
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Alan Turing: a short biography - 1
Alan Turing: a short biography byAndrew Hodges
This short on-line biography of Alan Turing is based on the entry I wrote for the BritishDictionary of National Biographyin 1995. The eight parts correspond roughly to theeight sections of my full biography
There are no hyperlinks in the text. For links and for more images, go to thecorresponding page of theAlan Turing Internet Scrapbook. 
Part 1 — The Origins of Alan Turing
Alan Mathison Turing was born on 23 June 1912,the second and last child (after his brother John) of Julius Mathison and Ethel Sara Turing. Theunusual name of Turing placed him in a distinctivefamily tree of English gentry, far from rich butdeterminedly upper-middle-class in the peculiarsense of the English class system. His father Juliushad entered the Indian Civil Service, serving in theMadras Presidency, and had there met and marriedEthel Sara Stoney. She was the daughter of thechief engineer of the Madras railways, who camefrom an Anglo-Irish family of somewhat similarsocial status. Although conceived in British India,most likely in the town of Chatrapur, Alan Turingwas born in a nursing home in Paddington,London.
Alan Turing's father
In four inadequate words Alan Turing appears now as the founder of computer science, the originator of the dominant technology of thelate twentieth century, but these words were not spoken in his ownlifetime, and he may yet be seen in a different light in the future.They are also words very remote from the circumstances of his birthand infancy.The name of Turing was best known for the work of Julius' brotherH. D. Turing on fly fishing, and had no connection with the scientificor academic worlds. The name of Stoney however was notable for a
The background forthis Page has beentaken fromThe Wallpaper Machine, by Roy Williamsand Bruce Sears.It has beengenerated by a non-linear equation of the kind AlanTuring first studied.
http://www.turing.org.uk/bio/part1.html (1 of 3) [10/29/2003 12:20:25 PM]
Alan Turing: a short biography - 1
remote relative, the Irish physicist George Johnstone Stoney (1826-1911), today best known for his identification of the natural units of physical quantities. Possibly the engineering base of his mother'sfamily, with its respect for applied science, had some influence, but if so it was subordinated to the demands of class, church and Empire.Certainly the elder brother John F. Turing, who became a Londonsolicitor, showed no sign of it. Alan Turing's story was not one of family or tradition but of an isolated and autonomous mind.Alan Turing shared with his brother a childhood rigidly determinedby the demands of class and the exile in India of his parents. Until hisfather's retirement from India in 1926, Alan Turing and his elderbrother John were fostered in various English homes where nothingencouraged expression, originality, or discovery. Science for him wasan extra-curricular passion, first shown in primitive chemistryexperiments. But he was given, and read, later commenting on itsseminal influence, a popular book called
 Natural Wonders EveryChild Should Know.
Alan Turing with his mother
His boyhood scientific interests were a trial tohis mother whose perpetual terror was that hewould not be acceptable to the English PublicSchool. At twelve he expressed his consciousfascination with using 'the thing that iscommonest in nature and with the least wasteof energy,' presentiment of a life seekingfreshly minted answers to fundamentalquestions. Despite this, he was successfullyentered for Sherborne School. The headmastersoon reported: "If he is to be solely aScientific Specialist, he is wasting his time ata Public School." The assessment of hisestablishment was almost correct.
Continue the short biography For links and more pictures go to thecorrespondingAlan Turing Internet Scrapbook page.
http://www.turing.org.uk/bio/part1.html (2 of 3) [10/29/2003 12:20:25 PM]
Alan Turing: a short biography - 1
http://www.turing.org.uk/bio/part1.html (3 of 3) [10/29/2003 12:20:25 PM]

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