Computer scientist and code cracker Alan Turing will soon be featured on the fifty-pound bill. The Briton was chosen from a shortlist of twelve nominated scientists, including Stephen Hawking. The new note will go into circulation at the end of 2021.
The Bank of England has shown a first image on which the new note will be based. The British could nominate scientists from their own country to decorate the note. The UK central bank received 227,299 nominations and a total of 989 eligible scientists were nominated. A committee chose twelve names from that shortlist and the boss of the bank chose Turing.
Alan Turing is best known for helping to break the code of the Nazi Enigma machines, which enabled the deciphering of messages intercepted during World War II. However, he is also regarded as the most influential computer scientist ever and the founder of the modern computer.
A portrait of Turing will appear on the back of the new fifty pound note. This is a photo taken in 1951 by Elliott & Fry. The design also includes a mathematical formula from the paper On Computable Numbers, with an application to the Entscheidungsproblem, published by Turing in 1936.
Furthermore, there is an image of the Automatic Computing Engine Pilot Machine on the note; one of the first digital computers created using Turing’s theories. The design contains technical drawings of the Bombe, the code-cracking machine devised by Turing for the German Enigma machines. In addition, a statement and Turing’s signature will be on the note. The final design of the new £50 note will be announced at a later date.
Turing was convicted of homosexuality and chemically castrated in 1952. Two years later he committed suicide. In 2013, the computer pioneer was posthumously pardoned by the British Queen, following a request from the British Minister of Justice.