Alan Turing manuscript up for auction

ITworld | Apr 13, 2015

Written during World War II, the manuscript is the last one in existence from the English mathematician who cracked the Nazi's Enigma code.

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This manuscript is expected to sell for at least a million dollars at auction. It's because it is authored by Alan Turing, the English mathematician widely considered to be the father of modern computer science. He was depicted in the popular movie Imitation Game.

The 56 page manuscript dates to World War II when Turing was working to break the code generated by the German Enigma machine. In the manuscript Turing examines the work of mathematicians and logicians in order to lay the foundation for a universal language for computers.

If you read closely you can get a sense of Turing's personality, like in this passage where he describes a mathematician's work as hateful.

This is the last known manuscript from Turing. He was prosecuted by the British government for being homosexual and committed suicide in 1954. Turing's friend Robin Gandy inherited the manuscript and on some blank pages Gandy wrote his own private journal.

Bonhams auction house in New York is also auctioning off an original German Enigma machine. Made in Berlin in 1944, this is what Turing's machine was able to crack.

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Discussing how machine works.
Cassandra Hatton
Senior Specialist, Bonhams


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The machine scrambles plain-text messages and produces a cipher text message, which was then transmitted by Morse code for German military to coordinate their actions. The breaking of the code is thought to have shortened World War II by several years.

The machine is expected to sell for 140 to 180 thousand dollars.

With reporting by Marc Ferranti, Nick Barber, IDG News Service.