Saturday, May 12, 2012

#Turing's practical firsts

Thursday evening I attended a fascinating lecture given by Emeritus Professor Bob Doran titled Alan Turing and the Computing Engine - Turing's achievements in practical computing. The lecture referred to original documents written by Alan Turing in the late 1940's whilst he was designing the Automatic Computing Engine (ACE) and to later documents whilst he was working with the Manchester Mark 1. This lecture really puts to death the myth that Turing was just a theoretician and had no practical influence on the development of early computers. The lecture also seeks to explain why Turing's many practical firsts were not recognised by the early computing pioneers. You can watch a video of the lecture online, or if you are in Cambridge in the middle of June you can see Professor Brian Carpenter (the lecture's co-author) present the lecture at Turing's birthday party at King's College Cambridge - ACE 2012.
   One slide from the lecture shows the many practical computing firsts that Turing can claim - he was obviously much more than just a theoretician!