Alan Turing papers saved from export

Donations ensure computer pioneer Turing's work remains in the UK...

Donations ensure computer pioneer Turing's work remains in the UK...

A rare collection of offprints written by Bletchley Park codebreaker Alan Turing has been saved thanks to donations from Google, the public and the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF).

When it was announced last year that the collection was to go under the hammer, a campaign to buy the papers for the codebreaking museum at Bletchley Park was soon launched.

Mathematician Alan Turing formalised the concept of the algorithm and played a key role in WWII codebreaking at Bletchley Park

Mathematician Alan Turing formalised the concept of the algorithm and played a key role in WWII codebreaking at Bletchley Park
Photo: Shutterstock

The campaign, launched by supporter Gareth Halfacree, received a $100,000 donation from Google as well as £28,500 in donations from the general public but was still struggling to raise enough cash to save the collection. The NHMF stepped in to provide the £213,437 needed to secure the collection and prevent it from potentially being sold overseas.

Peter Barron, director of external relations for Google, said: "Turing is a hero to many of us at Google for his pioneering work on algorithms and the development of computer science".

The collection includes offprints of Turing's 18 published works, including his seminal paper On Computable Numbers as well as Turing's signatures featured in a household visitors' book belonging to Max Newman, a fellow mathematician and codebreaker and a close friend of Turing.

According to the NHMF, the collection is particularly rare as there are very few physical traces of Turing's work or personal belongings due to the persecution he endured after the war.

Having played a vital role in the top-secret codebreaking mission at Bletchley Park, which some historians believe shortened the war by two years, Turing was convicted of having a sexual relationship with another man. The persecution that ensued led to his eventual suicide. It was only in September 2009 that the British Government apologised to Alan Turing when the then Prime Minister Gordon Brown issued an official apology.

A government committee recently said technology centres that support research should be known as Turing Centres, in recognition of the contribution he made to modern technology.

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