If you don’t know who Alan Turing is, you should. You’re probably reading this on the thing helped invent; the computer. Alan was instrumental in winning World War II and saving millions of lives. He was forgotten from the history books for years because of his sexuality but he has slowly gotten the recognition he deserves. There is also a story that ties him to Snow White, although a sad one.
To do this justice, I want to give more of a background on who Turing was. Born June 23, 1912, Turing was an English computer scientist, mathematician, logician, cryptanalyst and theoretical biologist. He was highly influential in the development of theoretical computer science, providing a formalization of the concepts of algorithm and computation with the Turing machine, which was used to crack Germany’s Enigma machine. The Enigma machine was how the German’s communicated to each other during the war. Once the code was cracked, Turing and team were able to decipher what move Germany was going to do next thusly providing the Allies with war ending strategies. Turing is widely considered to be the father of theoretical computer science and artificial intelligence.
Many people didn’t know of him because in Britain it was illegal to be a homosexual until 1967. Plus, the work he did for the war was classified and never to be mentioned again so that Germany wouldn’t know they cracked their code. He had a perfect storm against him to be forgotten. It is a complete shame but now people can start learning about what he did for so many and still does be creating the forefather of the device I write this article on. I highly recommend the movie Imitation Game (starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Turing) and there are many books about him that are worthwhile. His story doesn’t get any happier, unfortunately.
If you were found guilty of homosexuality in Britain, you had a choice of jail or hormone treatments. The hormone treatments were cruel and made people very sick. Alan decided to take them instead of jail. He died in 1954 by cyanide poisoning. His favorite fairytale was Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. The Disney movie came out when he was in his early twenties. A biographer noted that he took “an especially keen pleasure in the scene where the Wicked Queen immerses her apple in the poisonous brew.” There was a half-eaten apple by his body when he was found yet they didn’t test it for cyanide. People have speculated that he re-enacted the scene from Snow White because he was so fond of it and died by suicide. This is, of course, all speculation because others, including his mother and a professor named Jack Copeland, thought of it to be an accidental poisoning. Copeland has a theory that one his instruments leaked the poison and that the autopsy report matches inhalation poisoning rather than ingestion.
Another theory was that Steve Jobs wanted an homage to Alan for his company and the logo of Apple with the bite out of it is in reference to him. That has later been debunked by the designer of the logo but it is nice to think about either way and it makes me like the Apple logo more. Even if it’s not real.