BoE unveiled new £50 pounds banknote – Alan TURING
- July 18, 2019
IT pioneer Alan Turing will be the obverse of the new £50 banknotes, which will enter into circulation in 2021, the Bank of England announced on Monday 15 July.
British researcher Alan Turing would have turned 100 on June 23, 2012.
Who was Alan TURING
During the Second World War, the code of the Enigma machine could not have been deciphered without TURING’s work. This electromechanical device, contained in a simple briefcase, allowed the Nazis to encrypt communications between their North Atlantic submarines and the German admiralty.
Once Enigma’s secrets were known, the Allies were able to reverse the course of the submarine war, which had initially been unfavourable to them, and put an end to the blockades on the English coast. The outcome of the Second World War was radically changed.
After the war, Turing’s work contributed to the development of computer technology and made him one of the pioneers of artificial intelligence.
But Turing will not have time to get to know the computer age. In 1952, the scientist was convicted of “insulting public morals” because of his homosexuality, which was considered as illegal in Great Britain. He had to undergo chemical castration and committed suicide two years later. He was only 41 years old.
Carving of TURING holding an Enigma machine
New banknote specifications
The BoE has posted a video explaining the personality selection procedure that will be used to illustrate the future £50 banknote.
The new £50 note, our first £50 printed on polymer, will celebrate Alan Turing and his pioneering work with computers. As shown in the concept image, the design on the reverse of the note will feature:
- A photo of Turing taken in 1951 by Elliott & Fry which is part of the Photographs Collection at the National Portrait Gallery.
- A table and mathematical formulae from Turing’s seminal 1936 paper “On Computable Numbers, with an application to the Entscheidungsproblem” Proceedings of the London Mathematical Society. This paper is widely recognised as being foundational for computer science. It sought to establish whether there could be a definitive method by which any theorem could be assessed as provable or not using a universal machine. It introduced the concept of a Turing machine as a thought experiment of how computers could operate.
- The Automatic Computing Engine (ACE) Pilot Machine which was developed at the National Physical Laboratory as the trial model of Turing’s pioneering ACE design. The ACE was one of the first electronic stored-program digital computers.
- Technical drawings for the British Bombe, the machine specified by Turing and one of the primary tools used to break Enigma-enciphered messages during WWII.
- A quote from Alan Turing, given in an interview to The Times newspaper on 11 June 1949: “This is only a foretaste of what is to come, and only the shadow of what is going to be.”
- Turing’s signature from the visitor’s book at Bletchley Park in 1947, where he worked during WWII.
- Ticker tape depicting Alan Turing’s birth date (23 June 1912) in binary code. The concept of a machine fed by binary tape featured in the Turing’s 1936 paper.
Sources: BoE and NUMISMAG.