You might have known that Google regularly creates special doodles for certain historic occasions. Today, of all days, is the birthday of Alan Turing — the man often considered the father of computer science. He’d be marking his 100th were he still alive. To celebrate properly, the doodle even includes a rudimentary form of programming language.
Specifically, the doodle uses a form of Baudot code to allow users to produce the word “Google” letter by letter. Each letter requires a specific puzzle to be followed logically in order to produce the exact code. Given the prominence of computers now, it’s not surprising that Google should find it in them to celebrate Turing’s birthday. Especially considering his mistreatment during the time in which he actually lived. It was not exactly a wonderful life.
You see, Turing invented a little device referred to as the Turing machine that reads a spool of tape with a table of rules attached to understand the tape. At its most basic, the machine is meant to be a simple method of understanding the limits of mechanical computation. It was and is a brilliant innovation.
Turing’s accomplishments were many — he worked at Bletchley Park during World War II — but his homosexuality eventually saw him prosecuted as a criminal and receive chemical castration as the preferable alternative to prison. In 1954, he died from cyanide poisoning in what was officially ruled as suicide but still has many experts in debate. It wasn’t until 2009, with much internet prodding, that the British government made an official apology for the way he was treated.
Every device being used to read this post can trace its lineage back to Turing in one way or another.
- A robot was nominated as Olympic torch bearer to celebrate Turing
- Take a peek at Turing’s hand-drawn Monopoly board
- Two of his secret cryptography essays were released not so long ago
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