In Memory of Alan Turing

September 17, 2009

Since I still haven’t finished setting up the Almost Fabulous site, I thought I’d give you a sneak peek at this week’s tribute to Alan Turing. You can find the audio version (complete with bonus jokes!) in episode 11 of the radio show, downloadable from iTunes or direct from here.

alan turing

When we started the Almost Fabulous project, all those years ago, our goal was to bring attention and love to those potential queer icons who had been left out in the cold. At that time I considered including mathematician and cryptologist Alan Turing, but decided he was already a well-known and celebrated figure. After all, he has been the subject of award-winning plays and documentaries, and in 1999 Time Magazine named him as one of the 100 most important people of the 20th century.

But since the comments of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown put Turing back in the media this month, I thought it was time to re-acquaint ourselves with this extraordinary gay man.

In the 1930s Turing was a mathematician working at Cambridge and later Princeton University, working on algorithms, theories of computation and – like any uni student – building simple electro-mechanical binary multipliers. Little did he know that years later his work would lead to the personal computer and the most efficient porn delivery system the world has ever known.

But as important as his work on computers is – and seriously, without him we wouldn’t be able to watch footage of cats on treadmills on YouTube, so for that alone, Mr Turing, we salute you – it’s his work during World War II that makes him a bona-fide hero.

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