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Alan Turing

Alan Turing

1912 – 1954

Alan Turing's work was instrumental in placing NPL at the forefront of computer technology

Turing had already achieved a great deal before he started work at NPL. While at King's College, Cambridge, he earned a scholarship, Maths Tripos Part II Distinction, fellowship and Smith's Prize, as well as writing his paper on Computable Numbers. He then moved on to Princeton University and earned his PhD in 1938, before moving back to Cambridge and starting work at the Government Code and Cryptography School in 1939, where he was an essential part of the work to break the German Enigma code.

After the war he moved to NPL in 1945, and produced his plans for the ACE computer in 1946. He worked at NPL on the ACE until he left (after being on leave to Cambridge) in 1948, not long after writing his Intelligent Machinery paper.

He went on to work at the University of Manchester, contributing to work on the Mark I computer before returning to considering machine intelligence. This work led to his Computing Machinery and Intelligence paper, which describes the 'Turing test' for intelligence.

Alan Turing appears on new £50 polymer note

Alan Turing and his work, including NPL's Automatic Computing Engine (ACE) Pilot Machine, have been used in the imagery on the reverse of the new polymer £50 note which entered circulation in June 2021.

Read more about Turing's work at NPL

No, I'm not interested in developing a powerful brain. All I'm after is just a mediocre brain, something like the President of the American Telephone and Telegraph Company.

Alan Turing - 1912-1954


The Pilot ACE

A film exploring Alan Turing's Automatic Computing Engine, with interviews from his past colleagues. Other notable figures who worked with Turing at NPL include Donald Davies and Jim Wilkinson.


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Read About NPL and our illustrious History.

Alan Turing's discoveries have shaped the world. Find out more about NPL's current work on Data science and Quantum.

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