Alan Turing’s electronic brain

alan turing

(Photo credit: By permission of Oxford University Press)

(Image above shows a cross-sectional representation of a head but instead of a brain, there is the image of a computer. The title of the book ‘Alan Turing’s electronic brain’ and the author’s name, B. Jack Copeland against a purple and black background)

Best known as the genius who broke some of Germany’s most secret codes during the Second World War, Alan Turing was also the father of the modern computer.

Alan Turing was born in London on 23 June 1912. Educated at Sherborne School in Dorset and at King’s College, Cambridge, he graduated in 1934 with a degree in Mathematics. Twenty years later, after a short but brilliant career, he died.

His ideas lived on, however, and at the turn of the millennium Time magazine listed him among the twentieth century’s 100 greatest minds, alongside the Wright Brothers, Albert Einstein, Alexander Fleming, and DNA busters Watson and Crick.

Today, all who click or touch to open are familiar with the impact of his dreams. We take for granted that we use the same piece of hardware to shop, manage our finances, type our memoirs, play our favourite music and videos, and send instant messages across the street or around the world.

With this single invention – the computer – Turing changed the world.

In 1945 Turing drew up his revolutionary design for an electronic computing machine-his Automatic Computing Engine (’ACE’). A pilot model of the ACE ran its first program in 1950 and the production version, the ‘DEUCE’, went on to become a cornerstone of the fledgling British computer industry. The first ‘personal’ computer was based on Turing’s ‘electronic brain’.

This book, written by B. Jack Copeland, contains first hand accounts by Turing, and by the pioneers of computing who worked with him, of the struggle to build what would become the world’s fastest computer.

As well as relating the story of the invention of the computer, the book clearly describes the hardware and software of the ACE-including the very first computer programs.

The book is intended to be accessible to everyone with an interest in computing, and contains numerous diagrams and illustrations as well as original photographs.

You can find further details of Alan Turing’s electronic brain on the main catalogue (available in ‘Catalogues’ on the Library’s website)