This Day in History: June 7

Today: October 20, 2017
World War II Enigma Buster Alan Turing Commits Suicide
Alan Turing

June 7, 1954

World War II Enigma Buster Alan Turing Commits Suicide

Alan Turing, a computer science pioneer and one of the secret code breakers working at Britain’s Bletchley Park during the World War II, killed himself by eating an apple containing cyanide. Turing conceived of the idea to create a machine that would turn thought processes into binary numbers. The concept was that a series of ones and zeros read from a tape could describe the steps needed to solve a problem or task. Turing also helped Britain in World War II by deciphering encrypted German communications, giving the Allies critical information about enemy intentions throughout the rest of the war. Sadly, in 1952 Turing was taken to court because he was gay--at the time at legally-punishable offense. When Turing's relationship with a young Manchester man was discovered, he was threatened with jail. Instead, he agreed to estrogen injections for a year in an attempt to curb his libido. He was also denied work with GCHQ, the successor to Bletchley Park, because of his sexual orientation. Two years after his conviction he took his life.