March 2020: In 1999 this was an HTML sort-of rendering of the xeroxed handout for the OUTWEST show. The original was a capture of the ITA2 fixed-width, 72 column output of a 1950's Model 28 teleprinter. Well HTML that "worked" in 1990 doesn't, in 2020, so it is re-rendered below as <pre> preformatted text with a "teletype" font. Good luck with that. The images were intentionally grayed out in low-res for the handout; better images are elsewhere on this site.
As told by the WPS Story Teller System
World Power Systems
1 September, 1999
A secret hero of World War Two, his wartime work remained a military secret until 1979. More than any other single person, his work led directly to Germany's defeat.
In 1945 he designed the world's first electronic, stored-program, digital computer, building upon his wartime work, and wrote papers foreseeing future decades of computer development.
By 1950 he was pursuing machine intelligence, and in a brilliant and witty paper defined what is now called the Turing Test for intelligence, which remains basic to artificial intelligence today. He devoted his last years to finding a mathematical basis for morphogenesis, the beginnings of life; his work in this area still considered pioneering.
Alan with friends, 1939.
The Story Teller is a system of obsolete, technological forgeries; leftovers from a Cold War that never, really, existed. It is an open-ended system for telling stories, via printed text, machine-uttered speech, drawings and words on phosphor screens, pen on paper, though only printed text and uttered speech are seen here. The stories are composed ahead of time, and stored as rows of tiny holes in a paper tape, an inch wide and tens or hundreds of feet long; a fabulously tactile, wonderfully obsolete machine-storage medium from another century. The resulting tapes are "played" on the Story Teller, similar to reel to reel magnetic recording tape.
The Model 31 Vocalizer (left)
speaks English phonemes, words, sentences, and programmatic gibberish. In oak, bakelite and brass, it utters speech and sounds in a clear but often unintelligible voice. The sole controls are for volume and speed, the latter controlling how slowly each phoneme is spoken. Glass-jeweled lamps decode each phoneme ("HEH-ELL-OW"); and with the speed control, allow for disturbing deconstruction and destruction of communication.
The Model 3 Tape Reader (right)
plays the perforated tape and sends the information on to other devices that speak or print. A tape is mounted on one side, and spools to the other as it is read. It is a pleasure to use; small, dense, dark oiled oak and bakelite, it makes a soft clucking noise as it reads a tape; you can literally feel the data on your finger tips, as the tape pulls through your fingers.
The Model 28 teletypewriter (left)
made by the Teletype Corporation in 1964, prints inky text onto cheap roll paper, and contains as many moving parts as a modern automobile. "Teletypes" are fantastically reliable and fascinating to watch and hear, a miniature locomotive of the printed word. It contains embedded intelligence to work in the Story Teller system. Teletypes in one form or another were the terminals, as they were called, of the world's original inter-net; telegraphy.
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Alan was ahead of his time, but trapped in an Edwardian past; unapologetically homosexual in a world where it was still a crime, brilliant and sensitive, awkward and clumsy, "a brain" in school and an Olympic-class runner, Alan just didnt fit in, anywhere he went. He was quite conscious of his plight, and lived his life as he chose, with high standards for himself and the world. However much of the world, then as now, worried more about appearance and authority to be anything but embarrassed with Turing. In his work, as in his personal life, he chose to be self- contained, to work things out from the most basic facts, sometimes to his own detriment. As it turned out, Turings accomplishments didnt disappear, despite his indifference to history, a Cold War society unable to deal with an atheist out-of-the-closet homosexual mathematician. Even today its hard to grasp the extent of what he did half a century ago. I. -- Alan Mathison Turing was born on 23 June, 1912, in Paddington, England into a middle class family of marginal success. Neither he nor his brother John were model boys; bookish and quiet, and uninterested in toy guns and mock fighting. As a child Alan was bright and precocious, and would engage strangers with his high-pitched voice, but he was also willful and stubborn, and unwilling to follow rules that "didnt make sense", a trait that Leaving on a trip, his would follow him through life. mother said to three year old Alan, "Youll Not too well off, the Turings could afford be a good boy, wont one thing for their boys: public school you?" to which Alan (U.S. translation: private school). replied, "Yes, but British public school is basic-training sometimes I shall for the Empire; individuality and forget!" intelligence rate second place to tradition, structure and hierarchy. Alan was doomed from the start. He found his own solutions to math problems, shunning standard solutions provided in school books, just as he worked around school requirements and systems. Reading Einstein, he identified the crucial point: "He appears self-con- Einstein doubted the axioms of Newtonian tained and is apt to physics, just as Alan was now learning to be solitary." doubt the axioms of normal society. -- SHERBORNE HOUSE- MASTER At 15, Alan fell in love with another boy at school, Christopher Morcom. Alan arranged things to be near him in classes and activities. As it turned out, Chris was as smart as Alan, but handsome and confident. Alan "worshipped "I wanted to look the ground he trod on" and Chris "made everyone at his face, as seem so ordinary". They had many interests in as I felt so common; mathematics, astronomy, chemistry, and attracted." constantly shared ideas and challenged each other. This was Alans first (unrequited) love, and it was to change his life forever. Alans now-year-long friendship with Alans notes on Chris was starting to show in Einsteins General improved grooming and penmanship Theory of Relativity: (the latter bad enough to hurt "Now he has got his his chances for college). axioms, and is able to proceed with his Insecure, Alan tests Chris; walking logic, discarding the back from the cinema, he hung back old ideas of time, and was rewarded: "evidently I looked space, etc". 1928, rather lonely as Chris beckoned to 16 yrs old. me (mostly I think with his eyes) to walk beside him. Chris I think knew how well I liked him but hated me shewing it." Alan never spoke to Christopher of his love for him, probably realizing it would not be returned. Alan didnt know that Christophers frequent illnesses had a cause; as a child he had contracted tuberculosis from the family cow, and in 1930, when he was 18, Chris died from its complications. It was a major blow to Alan. In his last years at Sherborne finally Alan began to gain some acceptance from his improved confidence and image that showed in his schoolwork (certainly Chris/s inspiration), and acceptance for his increasingly obvious brilliance in math. By graduation he had won substantial scholarships, a medal for math, and was accepted to Kings College at Cambridge, for the year 1931. II. --- Mathematics knows no races... for mathematics, the whole cultural world is a single country" --DAVID HILBERT, 1928 Kings College, Cambridge, was an ancient, feudal place, with an 11pm curfew, gowns after sunset, and an obsession with social status, gentlemen and servants; but it came with the freedom to spend time as one chose, very high standards of learning, and an unprecedented social tolerance. Alan was amongst the top rank of math students, where status was gained by accomplishment rather than money or birth; maths greatest figures, Gauss and Newton, were born farm boys. It was at this time, 1931, that Hitlers gang was stirring trouble in Germany, and England talked of war; but with fresh memories of cynical World War One many Britishers were wary of another greed-driven war. Alan joined an anti-war council as did many students, but he did not side with the pro-soviet, socialist groups; a champion of all that was honest and logical, he would not go along with dogma of any kind. In 1933 he met another Cambridge student, James Atkins. They immediately became friends, and eventually lovers. James sexuality and self-image was not as well-developed as Alans; he initially Cambridge was an made some homophobic rebuffs, but island of sanity eventually warmed to Alans advances. in an insane world. Alans sexual openness got him and an unnamed friend some scurrilous mentions in a school magazines crossword puzzle hints. Contemporary ideas on sex were at their most oppressive throughout most of Alans life, liberation of any kind still decades away. Utter unmentionability was still the norm, a hidden horror; the only "I had rather give mentions were the ancient world, the Oscar a health boy or a Wilde trial, and rare exceptions like healthy girl a Havelock Ellis and Edward Carpenter. phial of prussic Otherwise, there was a complete denial of acid than this existence of homosexuals. novel." -- SUNDAY EXPRESS, 1928, As Alan and his friends studied, people review of "WELL OF were fleeing the prospect of horror LONELINESS" growing in Germany, scientists and mathematicians mainly moving to America and England; Einstein moved to Princeton "You may call it non- in 1933. sense if you like, but Ive heard non- "A number of mathematicians met recently sense, compared with at Berlin University to consider the place which that would be of their science in the Third Reich. It as sensible as a was stated that...the Germanic intuition dictionary." which had produced the concept of infinity -- RED QUEEN, in was superior to...French and Italians... THROUGH THE LOOKING Mathematics was a heroic science which GLASS had reduced chaos to order. National Socialism had the same task and demanded the same qualities..." -- as reported in THE LONDON TIMES, 10 November, 1933 After attending a course of lectures on the methodology of science, Alan, skeptical as always, didnt accept the lecturers explanation of the "normal curve" of statistical science. In increasingly-typical fashion, Alan set out to find an exact solution, and from rigorous pure-mathematic principles. In a vaccuum, Alan re-invented the Central Limit Theorem, already proven in 1922, because Alan did no research before setting out on his work. At age 22, in 1934, Turing was elected to a fellowship. In addition to his existing scholarships, the post increased privileges, and included a substantial salary. His re-invention of the Central Limit Theorem, regardless, was a signifigant piece of work and showed he was capable of great things. His work put him at the forefront of the arcane and "useless" mathematical logic. Hilberts unanswered third question and Godels Unprovability Theorem, and remarks by Newman about "mechanical processes" led Alan to write "ON COMPUTABLE NUMBERS WITH AN APPLICATION TOWARD THE ENTSCHIENDUNGSPROBLEM". As part of his solution to Hilberts third question, he imagined an abstract, hypothetical machine, consisting of a table of instructions and an infinitely long tape upon which it could write and read symbols. The table would tell the machine what to do when it examined a square on the tape; move left or right, read or write a symbol, depending on what was on the tape. With this hypothetical machine he defined problems that could not be solved from within mathematics. Alan had "mechanized" something that was considered innately human, creating a hypothetical "universal machine", that could perform the equivalent of human mental activity. While the immediate subject of the paper remains part of arcane mathematics, the Universal Machine (today called the "turing machine") idea was to later start entire new mathematical sciences. An example UNIVERSAL MACHINE configuration to add two binary numbers stored on tape as strings of "X"s: 1. The tape. - ----------------------------------------------------------------- - 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 X 1 X 1 X 1 X 1 1 X 1 X 1 X 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 - ----------------------------------------------------------------- - A AAA AAAAAAA (scanner) 2. The table of instructions. if SCANNER reads a ... BLANK X ------------------------------------------ I II I I I STATE-1 II MOVE R, I MOVE R, I I II GO STATE-1 I GO STATE-2 I I II I I ------------------------------------------ I II WRITE "X", I I I STATE-2 II MOVE R, I MOVE R, I I II I I ------------------------------------------ I II I I I STATE-3 II MOVE L, I MOVE R, I I II GO STATE-4 I GO STATE-3 I I II I I ------------------------------------------ I II I ERASE, I I STATE-4 II NO MOVE, I NO MOVE, I I II GO STATE-4 I GO STATE-4 I I II I I ------------------------------------------ III. ---- Alans "COMPUTABLE NUMBERS..." paper, with its "universal machine" became a quiet revolution in mathematics, and probably helped him get the fellowship he applied for at Princeton (USA). Alan left for Princeton in the fall of 1936. Princeton was quickly becoming the center of the universe of mathematics and physics; its already substantial local talent was attracting refugees from Europe. Einstein, von Neumann, Courant, Hardy, Upon arrival in New Lefschetz were there; Godel and other York: "...Passing the notables had visited within the year. This immigration officers trend was to increase as the war worsened. involved waiting in a queue for two hours But Alan was miserable. He pined for his screaming children sheltered British life, and he wasnt yet round me... I had to confident enough to be social in an alien go throug the initia- culture. The culture shock of foreign, tion of being swindled plain-speaking Americans and open by a taxi driver..." competition were too much for him. Adding to his culture-shock was that he was living the charade of a homosexual in the foreign and sexually more-rigid American culture. He wrote to James Atkins that he was depressed and described a complicated way to kill himself with an apple and electrical wiring. With his British friend Maurice Pryce, also at Princeton, Alan visited relatives in rural Rhode Island. His country cousin put Alan and Maurice in the same bed. Maurice was amazed at Alans "advance", and Alan apologized -- then lashed out with a deeply embarrassing outburst of anger and self-pity. (Cut Alan some slack here; its 1937.) Alans time at Princeton was hardly wasted however; he attended lectures by Alonzo Church, John von Neumann, and others, and in his own way mixed with many accomplished people. He wrote some minor papers, one of some note, with von "I think of people as Neumann, and expanded his thoughts on pink-colored collec- using his "universal machine" on codes tions of sense data" and cyphers. Alan built an electric relay Alan once joked. multiplier, to see if it would work. He had to make the relays himself, as they were unavailable to him in wartime. It was utterly unheard of for mathematicians to have At the end of the school year, spring 1938, Alan headed home to an increasingly fearful England; Germanys union with Austria was foreboding, war was in the air, a new kind of war. Czecho-Slovakia was invaded by Germany, England made a pact with Poland. War was very close to home. Cambridge had already extended Alans fellowship, so his academic future seemed assured, but the war was to change everything. In 1938, while still at Cambridge, he was recruited by "GC and CS", the Government Code and Cypher School, should war come and his be skills needed. That day came on 3 September 1939; Alan reported to GC & CS the next day, his reservations about a "selfish" war set aside by the new reality. Alan was assigned to the Bletchley Park facility. !!! IV. --- Bletchley Park was charged with intercepting and analyzing enemy communications, mainly radio morse code messages. Messages were encrypted with a machine called "ENIGMA", commonly used by banks for financial communications. However the German military had their own version, with extensive improvements that made it much more secure. Nearly all German radio communications used ENIGMA, and the sad state of British intelligence, its left-over 19th century brain-dead bureaucracies, incapable of cooperating, utterly without modern technology (the Admiralty recorded the locations of German ships in huge centralized notebooks, updated once per month) meant that England was completely without any sort of intelligence data on German whereabouts -- none whatsoever. Not one German message had been decoded for months. Worse, Commander Denniston, head of GC & CS, was overheard saying to the Head of the Naval Section, "You know, the Germans dont mean you to read their stuff, and I dont expect you ever will." This was the state of affairs when Alan and his fellow recruitees arrived. Alan volunteered for the hardest and most important work, the Naval ENIGMA decodes, saying, "No-one else was doing anything about it and I could have it to myself." The only glimmer of hope in this mess was the work of some brilliant Polish mathematicians who had managed to work out a scheme for cracking the ENIGMA codes used for a days encryption (the codes changed daily). It involved making 100,000 cards with holes corresponding to the innards of the ENIGMA machine, and relied on a particular usage of the ENIGMA. And they had done so with ENIGMA parts smuggled out of France in a shockingly complicated scheme. Even more fantastic, the Poles had created electrical machines, which they called "BOMBES" (after the ticking noise they made) to run through the thousands of possible combinations. Even so, it took months of hand-work to decode a days messages, but it was all they had. Alans first contribution, in 1939, was a major one, and typical of his peculiar mixture of theoretical and practical skills. With historically "useless" number theory he designed an electrical machine that exploited weaknesses in the german ENIGMA crypto machine, building on the work of the Poles Bombes. His earlier work on the relay multiplier certainly helped. When Bletchley Park started on the decrypts in 1939, it took as long as four months to decode one ENIGMA message; by June 1941, using the new Turing-designed Bombes, they were breaking them almost as soon as they were received. That same year Churchill visited Bletchely and met with a very nervous Turing. Churchill called Bletchley, and Turing, "the goose that laid the golden eggs and never cackled." Alan met Joan Clark, a math professor, hired as a lowly "linguist" by the stodgy civil service (though treated as a peer in the progressive Cambridge-like atmosphere). After a few dates they decide to marry (more a social obligation than a sexual one). He told her bluntly of his homosexuality, expecting her to call off the marriage; but he underestimated her, she wanted to continue on. Bletchley Park found itself overwhelmed with demands for more and faster decryption, but couldn't get the people and resources needed to complete the work. Alan, in typical fashion, broke all the rules of hierarchy, and wrote directly to Churchill, co-signed by team mates. Churchills reply was immediate, to his staff: ACTION THIS DAY: Make sure they have all they want on extreme priority and report to me that this had been done. Eventually Alans inner turmoil over his sexuality and the marriage to Joan became too much for him, and after much indecision he calls it off. He quoted Oscar Wildes closing lines from The Ballad of Reading Gaol: Yet each man kills the thing he loves, By each let this be heard, Some do it with a bitter look, Some with a flattering word, The coward does it with a kiss, The brave man with a sword! Joan realized that Alan loved her, and that she had not been rejected as a person. Though they remained friends, things were somewhat touchy, so they arranged to not work in the same section. By early 1942, Bletchley Park was decoding up to 3000 messages a day. A few months later, the Germans improved their entire ENIGMA system, by increasing the complexity of the codes by a factor of millions; Bletchley Parks enormous success ended over-night. Late in the year however, some progress was made on the theoretical Alan protected his tea front, code-named "FISH". Once again the cup, irreplaceable in most important breakthroughs was from wartime, by chaining Alan; his coworkers named it it to a radiator; to "Turingismus". tease him, his friends picked the lock. An entirely new type of machine was designed to handle the fantastic speeds necessary to decrypt Fish; instead of electrical/mechanical relays, the new machine would be all electronic. And further, the data that it operated on was going to be stored electronically, inside the machine. The new machines were to be called COLOSSUS. While not true computers, they contained most of the basic concepts of computers, and in fact a COLOSSUS was later "programmed" for things far beyond what it was originally designed for. (The existence of these machines was not known until declassification in 1978.) Wartime work was highly compartmentalized; few knew the purpose of their own work, or of the work of others. Turing was one of extremely few with overview-access to the entire process; this would later prove to be an enormous burden in his life. It also made him the obvious liaison to the U.S. for crypto- analytic work, not exactly Alans cup of tea, but utterly necessary. Alan left for the U.S. in the fall of 1942, to visit the AT&T Bell Laboratories. There Alan met Claude Shannon, his complement in terms of brilliance and breadth. Shannon worked on information theory and communications theory, but gave a lot of thought to logical machinery, a good match for Alans major interest in math and mathematical/logical machinery, and his study of information theory (of which cryptology is a practical aspect). At Bell Labs Alan was shown the prototype "X system", an extremely large and complex speech encipherment system, undergoing tests. After a brief description of a particular problem, Alan said "That ought to give you 945 codes. Its only 9 X 7 X 5 X 3." They were impressed; it had taken a Bell Lab technician a week to figure that out. Shannon was also interested in the idea of a machine emulating a brain, a thinking machine; a burning interest for Alan. But Shannon also talked of feeding a "brain" cultural data! Alan was most impressed. At lunch in the Bell cafeteria, filled with men in suits grooming for promotion, Alan blurted out, "No, Im not interested in developing a powerful brain. All Im after is just a mediocre brain, something like the President of the American Telephone and Telegraph Company." The room went silent, while Alan continued blithely with his story. After two months in America, Alan returned to England on the troop transport ship "EMPRESS OF SCOTLAND". He was the only civilian on the ship. He bought a copy of the RCA RADIO TUBE MANUAL to read on the trip; he wanted to invent a new, better way to encipher speech. V. -- By 1943 the COLOSSUS machines were in use. Though containing over 1500 electron tubes, they became more reliable than the previous electrical machines. Each was the most complex electronic device ever built. Though they were in part based on his Turingismus work, Alan wasnt involved in their construction. Alan, after getting Bletchley Parks methodologies started, and after returning from his liaison work in America, found himself outside of the day to day work. He transferred himself to Hanslope Park in 1944, another secret GC & CS facility, where he embarked on a project of his own, a system of speech encipherment he called Delilah (the biblical "deceiver of men") after having seen the complicated American "X system" at Bell Labs. Working with a young technician, Donald Bayley, Alan designed a secure speech encryption system that used only 30 electron tubes, as opposed to the X systems nearly 1000. It fit on a desk top in a single cabinet, and was mathematically secure. The British hierarchy showed no interest, sticking with the American system, and it was never used. During casual conversation with Donald Bayley, Alan mentioned his homosexuality. Donald, a rather sheltered young engineer, was appalled at Alans unapologetic attitude. Worse, rather than dropping the subject in expected embarrassment, he continued to argue logically, the argument becoming quite heated. They eventually reached a mutual agreement, Donald ultimately chalking it up to yet another Turing eccentricity, and weighing it Alan told Donald against NOT working with Turing. It from the start that almost jeapordized the Delilah project. he wanted to "build a brain". Nearly complete, he left the details of Delilah to Bayley, and started working on his ideas for a "brain". Alan assumed that the brain did what it did due to its logical structure, by the functioning of physics and chemistry; rather than reducing the brain down to its components, he wanted to emulate one, to do what a brain does, irregardless of what it was made of. And as Turings biographer states so well: "...And thus it was that in this remote station of the new military intelligence empire, working with one assistant in a small hut, and thinking in his spare time, an English homosexual atheist mathematician had conceived of the computer". The year was 1945. VI. --- John von Neumann, and some of the builders of the ENIAC (a giant American wartime calculator) had come up with the idea of an automatic computer too, but with vast resources and far more indirectly; the desire to build fast calculating machinery to solve mathematical problems. Throughout the 1940s nearly everyone, except Turing, thought of the new automatic computers as giant calculators; where Turing filled his designs with instructions for manipulating symbols, the Americans machines performed mathematics; where Turing designed his machines to specifically modify their own programs as they ran, the Americans ensured that theirs could NOT "accidentally" modify their instructions (revised, in a limited fashion, in 1947). In late 1945, Alan got a phone call from the new Mathematics division of the National Physical Laboratory. They were looking into the idea of scientific computing. Alan found himself with a new job. But there were problems from the start, of a more typical bureaucratic kind. The head of the NPL, Sir Charles Darwin, a descendent of Charles Darwin, was an unimaginative, block-headed bureaucrat. The Mathematics division head, and Turings boss, J.R. Womersley, was enlightened, intelligent and a political player, recruited Alan to write a proposal for a design of an automatic computer. Alas, Alan hardly helped his own cause, and managed to clash even with his ally Womersley. In 1946 Turing produced his report, "Proposed Electronic Calculator", now called "The ACE report", ACE being the name Womersley coined for it, the Automatic Computing Engine, a nod to Babbages work of 100 years earlier. A brilliant design, it called for a simple "mechanism" and a large memory, trading off complexity in hardware for increased complexity in software, exactly It was common for Alan the opposite of contemporary designs, to bicycle or walk for essentially the concept as the "RISC" 15 miles at a time. He designs of the mid-1990s. The ACE REPORT had been running remains readable today, and its modern- casually for years, appearing instruction set not too far and recently taken up removed from today"s, though the long-distance running, nomenclature may be alien today. as a serious amateur, running 2 or 3 hours The "ACE REPORT" goes further, and a day. It also, as his describes and predicts the entire computer mother put it, "put environment that would develop in the him in contact with coming decades: the art of computer men in all walks of programming, the use of sub-routines and life." subroutine libraries, floating point arithmetic libraries. He describes the methodology that people would use to solve problems on computers; loading standardized tape, debugging programs, program "checkpointing". He describes skilled programmers as separate from mathematicians, who would design algorithms for the programmers to implement. He foresaw the need for software librarians, and amusingly, that a "priesthood" of programmers would appear, and resist the later automation of their arcane programming jobs. No magic, it was a combination of Alans vision and his vast experience in setting up similar large organizations at Bletchley Park, coordinating hundreds of people, complex machinery producing results requiring intermediate checking, and an army of thousands to assimilate the information produced; none of which could be mentioned in the report, due to secrecy. Wartime secrecy and his innate poor "team player" politics, did not help him when the report was presented to the NPL; worse, Darwin was no visionary, and simply never understood the breadth and profound implications of what he was told, no matter how much people like Womersley talked it up. Huskey, the project head, stripped Turings design of all the logical/symbolic instructions (saying they were "not needed in most computing programs" -- how could he know? no one had written any until "...found Turing very then except Alan Turing.) and cut the opinionated and his memory to a tenth its proposed size, and ideas widely at named the machine the "Pilot ACE". variance with what the main stream of With diminishing influence on the new computer development machine, Alan phases himself out of the was going to be." project, to persue his ideas on machine -- CHARLES DARWIN intelligence. Robin Gandy borrowed a book from Alans room, and out flutters magazine pictures of royal-court page boys; Turing said, "You will find nice "pages" like that in my books." One day Alan invited Neville Johnson, a third-year math student, to tea; he stayed for tea, and indeed stayed many times. Not a particularly good math student, he was however Alans "type"; somewhat tough and "Sometimes youre down to earth. sitting talking to someone and you know The NPL "ACE" project now on a path of that in three quarters its own, Alan quits, and moves to of an hour you will Manchester University, already at work on either be having a their own computer, where Alan was made marvelous night or you Deputy Director of the new Royal Society will be kicked out of Computing Laboratory, May 1948. the room." F.C. Williams designed the Manchester computer, "without stopping to think about it too much", he said. It was a tiny, minimally functional machine with just over 1000 memory locations ("bits"), deemed just enough to get the job done; a race was on to have the first working machine. Turing was uninvolved in its development; he came too late, and more aggressively career-driven people like Woodger, F.C. Williams et al took the project as their own. The Manchester "baby machine" ran the worlds first working program on 21 June 1948, factoring integers using brute force trials, after weeks of errors and problems. Though Alan was nominally Deputy Director he was so removed from the project that one of the engineers, G.C. Tootill, mentioned "theres a chap called Turing coming here, hes written a program". Alan remained "free-lance" within the NPL, as the resident programming expert, and he started on the path to becoming a user of computers. (This may have been his intent in moving to Manchester, all along.) Manchester wasnt the comforting intellectual environment of Cambridge, and was less tolerant of oddness in general. His schoolboyish appearance, shaggy, messy hair and clothes, stood out too much. He had little social life at Manchester, and maintained ties to his friends at Cambridge. He lived in a lodging house on the edge of town, where he could run in the country-side and bicycle to work. He never purchased a car saying dramatically "I might suddenly go mad and crash." Alan wrote the "PROGRAMMERS HANDBOOK" for the Mark 1, just as the machine was to go into production in October 1949. It makes clearer the problems Alan had communicating his then-far-fetched ideas about computers; while most saw the contents of programs and memory as "numbers" Alan clearly saw them as symbols, devoid of inherent meaning, that anyone was free to employ with any symbolism they wanted. This wasnt conventionally recognized for decades. Using a computer in 1948: "...required considerable physical stamina. Starting in the machine room you alerted the engineer and then used the hand switches to bring down and enter the input program. A bright band on the monitor tube indicated that the waiting loop had been entered. When this had been achieved, you ran upstairs and put the tape in the tape reader then returned to the machine room. If the machine was still obeying the input loop you called to the engineer to switch on the writing current, and cleared the accumulator (allowing the control to emerge from the loop). With luck, the tape was read. As soon as the pattern on the monitor showed that the input was ended the engineer switched off the write current to the drum. Programs which wrote to the drum during the execution phase were considered very daring. As every vehicle that drove past was a potential source of spurious digits, it usually took many attempts to get a tape in -- each attempt needing another trip up to the tape room." -- Cicely Popplewell, 1948 Alan got Geoff Tootill interested in a scheme for computer character recognition, with a television camera to transfer an image directly to the program store, but it was too impractical on the limited machine. As an example of his advanced thinking, and of his basic social problems, Alan gave a talk in 1949 titled "Checking a large routine", and described a sophisticated system of tracking the contents of memory. But to illustrate, he drew numbers on the blackboard in base-32 teleprinter code, reversed left to right as the Manchester computer required, utterly losing his audience in the mind-boggling details. Wilkes said that he was certain Alan wasnt trying to be funny, and just couldnt understand that such a trivial thing could matter. Back at NPL, the Pilot ACE, based upon a truncated version of Alans 1946 design, was completed. Though only a shadow of Turings design, it was the fastest machine in the world, with its distributed operations (as opposed to the "centralized" model of the Manchester machine). Turings old NPL boss Womersley re-wrote the official history of the ACE project by re-ordering events, such that in Womerleys history Newman developed the ACE and Turing joined later. By 1950, Turing was already a non-person in the computer "revolution". It may have ended as Alan wanted; while everyone was competing to make newer, faster machines, Alan became a full-time user of computers and persued his machine-intelligence David Sayre, am American biologist at Manchester to use the computer, got along unusually well with Turing, and they worked on a basic X-ray crystallography problem, for a little over two days: ... before we had finished (Turing) had re-invented by himself most of the methods which crystallographers, up to that time, had worked out. He had, for this purpose, a breadth of knowledge greatly surpassing that of any crystallographer I have known, and I am certain he would have advanced the crystallographic situation very decidedly if he had worked at it seriously for a time. As it was, he may have had hold of one line which in 1949 had not yet appeared in crystallography, concerned with establishing quantitatively how much information is necessary to have on hand at the outset of a search to ensure that a solution can be found. -- DAVID SAYRE Turing continued to write papers and give and attend lectures, mainly on machine intelligence. He gave a talk titled "Educating a digital computer" in 1950, attended by influential cybernetic researchers, including Grey Walters, who made "tortoises" that recharged themselves when their batteries got low. Alan was initially interested in Norbert Weiners "cybernetics" movement, a major fad amongst intelligentsia at the time but quickly considered the pontificating empire-builder "a charlatan". He continued to attend meetings, and found them entertaining. (Cybernetics faded away when it was clear it offered no solutions to real problems.) It was in this environment that Turing wrote "COMPUTING MACHINERY AND INTELLIGENCE", in the philosophical journal "MIND", October 1950. In it he laid out his test for machine (or human) intelligence, now called the "TURING TEST", formulated as a guessing game. The point of his game was that there is no way to tell what other people are thinking -- or that they are thinking at all -- except by a comparison with themselves, and he saw no reason to treat machines any differently. I believe that in about fifty years time it will be possible to program computers, with a storage capacity of 10 to the 9th, to make them play the imitation game so well that an average interrogator will not have more than 70 per cent chance of making the right identifications after five minutes of questioning. -- from "COMPUTING MACHINERY AND INTELLIGENCE" It was the end of the "pioneer" period of computers, where people such as Turing, von Neumann, Shannon and others brought vast experience and insight, in science and philosophy, to bear on the basic problems of automated computing. From now on it would be the era of the machine and empire builders, and the "hardware" race to build bigger and faster machines. "COMPUTING MACHINERY AND INTELLIGENCE" is a final landmark in Alans interest in computing itself. It is still an interesting read, showing the excitement of the dawn of the computer age, when accomplishments were limited only by what could be imagined. Alans hypothetical guessing game, with its human or machine locked in a room, communicating with the world only via teleprinter, was an idealized version of the life Alan tried to live; fully self-contained, dealing with the world only via rational argument. He was fully conscious of the outside world, with its rules and codes and ettiquetes, but he chose to obey few of them, as they all directly threatened his freedom. VI. --- In 1950 Alan bought a house in Wilmslow, 10 miles south of Manchester. It was furnished in typical Turing style; his homemade brick pathway incomplete, experiments in teetering pots on tables, "Brilliant but unsound" books and papers everywhere. -- Alan's mother A short walk from his house was the city center, Oxford Street, where a homosexual culture had flourished since early in the 20th century (and where Wittgenstein had cruised nearly 50 years before), with its active street, pub and theatre life. It is almost certain that Alan took part in this clandestine culture. Alan became fascinated with embryology, an area of biology where no progress had been made in determining just how one, two,... many cells differentiated and became an organism. He wanted to know: just how does a symmetrical sphere of identical cells suddenly gastrulate, eg. suddenly develop a groove that becomes the head and tail of an animal? It was just the sort of clean-slate, "unsolvable" problem Turing liked (and which caused the likes of the philosopher Michael Polanyi to declare life to be guided by mysteries outside the human realm). Turing wrote a seminal paper, "THE CHEMICAL BASIS FOR MORPHOGENESIS", applied-mathematics par excellence, and created a mathematical model for gastrulation; under certain circumstances waves of chemical molecules would form stationary ... a mathematical model of the growing embryo will be described. This model will be a simplification and an idealization, and consequentially a falsification. It is to be hoped that the features retained for discussion are those of greatest importance in the present state of knowledge. -- from "THE CHEMICAL BASIS FOR MORPHOGENESIS" At the Manchester computer lab, over the next few years all that Alan had predicted came true; programmers, support staff, a library of standard programs. Alan remained uninvolved with computer development, and stayed with his fundamental research. It was hard to believe that in fact he was being paid to "direct" the laboratory. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, a very high honor given to those of immense accomplishment. To his friend (it was) very gratifying to be about to join the Olympians (referring to other FRS electees). I am delighted to hear that Maurice Pryce is also in the list...he was quite my chief flame at one time. In the letter he included a mathematicians in-joke: "I hope I am not described as "distinguished for work on unsolvable problems." Alan gave a talk about computers on the BBCs "Third Programme" radio show, on 15 May 1951, titled "Can digital computers think?", and he talked mainly about the universal machine and the imitation idea. He ended with this justification: The whole thinking process is still rather mysterious to us, but I believe that the attempt to make a thinking machine will help us greatly in finding out how we think ourselves. He was working more or less full-time on his biological problems now, using the Manchester computer, where he formed the classic nerd/hacker convention of using a computer; he worked overnight to have the machine to himself, using the "hooter" to signal when a new tape or other input was needed, displaying results on the visible cathode-ray memories, and using the computer to keep track of his experiments, a novel idea at the time. Never predictable, Alan wrote a short story, a barely-disguised story about himself, his work and his sexuality. While it is fiction, it describes some Manchester street life that strongly implies he/d taken part in it before. It was never published, and only a few pages survived in his notebooks. ... Alec (Alan) had been working rather hard until two or three weeks before. It was about interplanetary travel. Alec had always been rather keen on such crackpot problems, but although he rather liked to let himself go rather wildly to newspapermen or the Third Programme when he got the chance, when he wrote for technically trained readers, his work was quite sound, or had been when he was younger. This last paper was real good stuff, better than he"d done since his mod twenties when he had introduced the idea which is now becoming known as "Pryces buoy". Alec always felt a glow of pride when this phrase was used. The rather obvious double-entendre rather pleased him, too. He always liked to parade his homosexuality, and in suitable company Alec could pretend the word was spelt without the "u". It was quite some time now since he had "had" anyone, in fact not since he hadmet that soldier in Paris last summer. Now that his paper was finished he might justifiably consider that he had earned another gay(#) man, and he knew where he might find one who might be suitable. ... # Alan Hodges explains: "Was this plain text, or cypher text? At least since the 1930s in America it had been in use amongst homosexual men as a code word with plain meaning; from D.W. Corys 1951 book THE HOMOSEXUAL IN AMERICA: "Needed for years was an ordinary everyday, matter-of-fact word, that could express the concept of homosexuality without glorification or condemnation... Such a word has long been in existence... That word is GAY.". Alan used the word "homosexual", or amongst friends, "queer". But he certainly could have know of this American usage, and would have approved of D.W. Corys rationale." (Paraphrased for brevity) VII. ---- In 1951, Alan met Arnold Murray, 19, an unemployed, lower-class youth, while walking along Oxford Street. Alan asked Arnold to have lunch, rather than the customary quick tearoom or alley visit. Each met the others needs in some way; Alan was someone to look up to, Arnold was full of life with a good sense of humor, and a lost lamb. After a furtive start they began an ongoing sexual affair. Alan continued to work on his biological projects, and again spoke on the BBC, on whether machines could think, in January, 1952. Alan again argued in his "if it imitates intelligence we might as well call it intelligent" mode convincingly, if somewhat far-fetched to a contemporary audience. Alan and Arnold continued their affair, with many sleep-overs at Alans; though they had little in common, Arnold picked up on Alans need to communicate, and so things continued. There were problems with money, in that Arnold was clearly broke, and Alan clearly well-off. It came to a head when Alans house was broken into, and it was determined it was done by an acquaintance of Arnolds, though Arnold was not involved. Alan reported the burglary to the police, who, ever sensitive to social convention in Cold War England, determined the "true" crime, that of Alans involvement with Arnold. When asked what his relationship "When I recall some was to Arnold, Alan stated bluntly that past epoch, I think hed had a sexual affair with him. of whoever I was in love with at the time." He clearly underestimated the seriousness of his "offense", and was shocked at how much the police dwelt upon the sexual aspect rather than the burglary. Homosexuality brought a penalty of up to two years imprisonment. Poor Alan; his timing was poor. The tenor of the times was to change in the coming decade, but not in time for Alan. Over the previous 20 years, prosecution of homosexuals had increased five-fold. He became one of those criminals, and was sentenced to the "modern" "cure" of organotherapy: a years chemical castration via female hormone injections. The trial forced Alans life into the public eye. His mother, brother, all his co-workers past and present found out about his sexuality, either from him directly or from the papers. This caused great embarrassment at Manchester University, but it was generally considered "typical Turing". Most people simply didnt refer to it; those that avoided him had been avoiding him anyways. He showed no fear or embarrassment, and went about his business cheerfully. He had many strong supporters. Max Newman and others came to his defense, one even going as far as bringing quotes from the brand-new "Kinsey Report" to the Vice Chancellor as argument. Alan kept his job. He did not let it affect his work; the day after his arrest he spoke at a conference, and completed papers as scheduled. For Arnold, the trial was less damaging; he was put on probation, moved to London, became involved with Colin Wilson and others in the coffee-bar world there, and eventually became a muscian. And some people saw in Alan a new person. Lyn Newman, Max Newmans wife, found him much more human and interesting, and started plying him with books such as "ANNA KARENINA" and "WAR AND PEACE", the latter of which became a major influence on Alan, seeing himself and his own problems in it. Despite his fears, the estrogen didnt affect his intellectual performance, only his sexual. He continued to broaden and deepen his biological work. His earlier work was starting to be recognized; the botanist C.W. Wardlaw describing in biologists words Turings "CHEMICAL BASIS FOR MORPHOGENESIS". He was becoming quite famous for his 1936 "COMPUTABLE NUMBERS..." paper; while having lunch with Robin Gandy, Alan suddenly launched out one door just as a particularly boring logician was heading for him from another. While his sentence probably stifled Alans cruising activities in England, it didnt apply outside the country -- and Alan took numerous over-seas vacations, notably to Norway, and learned to speak a little Danish and Norwegian. On the proto-liberation front, Alan wrote a letter to a titled politician, arguing for de-criminalizing homosexuality, but unpoliticly informing them of the homosexuality of the politicians son. He received only a disclaimer from the politicians secretary in reply. Alan started seeing a Jungian psychoanalyst, Franz Greenbaum, who was comfortable with Alans sexuality. This probably fit in with his continuing interest in the human brain, and Alan continued to debate and attend lectures with Manchester philosophers on the human mind. He filled three notebooks with dreams. (An amusing resonance; Alan wrote a letter to Robin Gandy Alans letter was rendered using a program he wrote on the on a teleprinter similar Manchester computer, a fragment of to the one in front of which is shown here: you, so in fact it looked exactly as follows.) .... LD/BE/NO/POSSIBLE/OBJECTION/TO/MAKING/IT/SAY/:FOUR/THIRTY/IF/YOU// FIND/THIS/MORE/CONVENIENT/HR/IS/PROBABLY/THINKING/OF/YOUR/GETTING/ BACK/THE/SAME/DAY/////////////////IF/YOU/REALLY/ARE/GOING/SKIING/N O/DOUBT/IT/COULD/BE/DELAYED/TILL/APRIL/OR/MAY//THOUGH/I/MAYBHAVE/F ORGOTTEN/ABOUT/IT/BY/THEN/MOSTLY////////////////////////////////YO UR/LAST/LETTER/ARRIVED/INTHE/MIDDLE/OF/A/CRISIS/ABOUT/"DEN//NORSKE /GUTT"//SO/I/HAVE/NOT/BEEN/ABLE/TO/GIVE/MY/ATTENTION/YET/TOTHE/REA .... While hard to read it is a sight better than Alans handwriting, and far easier to read than the computer-edited letter he wrote to David Champernowne -- delivered on a strip of punched tape (as used here by the Story Teller). If not the first, these are certainly amongst the first computer-edited letters. Alans trips to Norway continued, and from correspondence with Robin he seemed to have opened up socially. Probably in connection with his psychotherapy, he apparently decided that self-exploration and self-revelation were worthy goals, and pursued them in typical Turing fashion. (Of course seeing a therapist was another source or social embarrassment to anyone but Turing. That he was foreign, and Jewish, only made it worse.) At the Manchester computer laboratory, a young man Alan found attractive arrived to use the computer. Alan immediately asked Tony Brooker "Who is that beautiful young man?", who explained. In April 1953 his chemical sentence ended; for the final three months an implant was used, which Alan suspected was designed to last more than three months; he removed it. At this time Manchester University created a special "Readership in the Theory of Computing" post for him, and with it came a pay raise; his professional future was secure. That summer, Alan visited the Greek island of Corfu, and returned with several names and phone numbers; he must have got more than that, as his biographer wrote of the visit: "As at school, he made mistakes with the French, but still did better than with the Greek." During this period, in spite or because of the Cold War, the general diversification of culture, and particularly sex, was changing for the better. Novels with homosexuals of covert intent were appearing, though mainly of the "tragic ending" sort; it was becoming obvious that homosexuals muddled through life just as anyone else. But just when it seemed Alan was becoming more comfortable in the world, he killed himself, on 7 June 1954. VIII. ---- Everyone who knew him was shocked; it seemed so pointless. He had always been a tense, unhappy person, and the Arnold affair wold have been a major blow to anyone, but the trial was two years old, the hormone treatments ended a year before, and he seemed to rise about it all in his typical fashion. His housekeeper found him, lying in bed; the coroner determined he died from cyanide poisoning. A half-eaten apple was by the side of his bed, and he had jars of potassium cyanide in his kitchen, for his many experiments. Presumably the cyanide was on the apple, though it wasnt tested, deemed an obvious suicide. There was no evidence of any kind to the contrary. He left no note, and his house was its usual mess of papers and books; and he had scheduled time on the computers a few days later. He had however made a new will only months before; his estate went to his mother and his friends. He had also reached a peak in much of his current biological work, not exactly complete, but he had told Robin Gandy that he felt he had gone as far as he could at the time. He had been working also on a number of mathematical logic papers and had published small Alans work (and saw that some of the unfinished work was published in subsequent work). ----------------------------------------------------------------------- As Turings biographer Andrew Hodges says, there is amazingly little information available on such a world-historic person, and not all of it is due to taboos on homosexuality or state secrets. Little was saved about the ACE machine, for example, and most of what exists was saved by participants personally. A large part of the problem is Turing himself; he didnt live his life like a "world figure"; he tried to be an ordinary mathematician, who generally remain obscure. He made no effort to preserve his work or writing. Appropriately enough, he achieved a modest immortality in the expression "turing machine", increasingly used uncapitalized, a sort of mathematical canonization. Not until the 1970s was Turings profound understanding of the capabilities of computers generally appreciated, as machinery capable of anything that can be expressed symbolically. Only with the spread of minicomputers, and later microprocessors, did the world begin to understand the nearly limitless use of the machines that Alan helped build. He may be finally, nearly a half-century later, coming into his own: # A play entitled "BREAKING THE CODE", by Hugh Whitemore, opened in London, in 1986. It played in New York in 1987. I was lucky enough to see it in San Francisco around 1989 or so. See SOURCES for more information. # A made-for-TV version of the play was first screened in Canada in 1986 by SHOWCASE TELEVISION. # And this year (1999) Neal Stephensons novel CRYPTONOMICRON has a decent rendering of Alan Turing as a fictional character; a fitting adaptation if his life (though Neal has him smoking cigarettes.). # Finally, Andrew Hodges is writing a work of fiction, titled THE UNWELDING, that has Turing as a fictional character. ----------------------------------------------------------------------- My interest in Alan Turing began in 1981, while reading "A HISTORY OF COMPUTING IN THE 20TH CENTURY". I dont recall what I knew of him at that time, certainly not much, but he came up in just about every essay in the book, at the most fundamental level of theory and construction of machines, and seemingly everywhere in between. And then I.J. Good wrote in his essay "PIONEERING WORK ON COMPUTERS AT BLETCHLEY": "It was only after the war that we learned that he was a homosexual. It was lucky the security people didnt know about it early on, because if they had known, he might not have obtained his clearance and we might have lost the war." As a young homosexual myself I was instantly fascinated -- but I could turn up no information beyond the most basic biographical information. But in 1983 I found the just-released "ALAN TURING: THE ENIGMA", by Andrew Hodges, a British homosexual mathematician, turned author, who brought together a phenomenal amount of information in spite of Turing's indifference to history, wartime secrecy, and a world unwilling or unable to acknowledge an open homosexual. This book was essentially my sole source of information on Turing. This isn't out of laziness; there simply isn't any other substantial works; and with a few exceptions, finding Alan's original work is very difficult. I strongly recommend Hodges book to anyone at all interested in Turing or this part of history. ----------------------------------------------------------------------- This paper document is ephemera from the performance of the "ALAN TURING" story as told by the World Power Systems "STORY TELLER" system, and stored on approximately 650 feet of punched tape. It takes about 8 hours to perform, assuming the tape doesn't break. A B C D E F G H I J K L L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 - S , : ( ) " # ? & . / ; Tom Jennings 19 August, 1999 SOURCES & REFERENCES -------------------- ALAN TURING: THE ENIGMA by Andrew Hodges, 1983. ISBN 0-671-49207-2, out of print. A new edition is expected in 2000. ALAN TURING: THE ENIGMA by Andrew Hodges, 1992. ISBN 0-09-911641-3, UK publication. Same as above but new preface and documents found since 1983. A HISTORY OF COMPUTING IN THE 20TH CENTURY, 1980. ISBN 0-12-491650-3, out of print. TURING, Andrew Hodges, 1997. ISBN 0-75380-192-2. Subtitled "A natural philosopher", a brief (60 page) essay on Turings philosophy of mind, showing more of his wit and brilliance, and some of the results of his discussions with Wittgenstein. Obtainable from AMAZON.CO.UK. ALAN TURING: THE ARCHITECT OF THE COMPUTER AGE, by Ted Gottfried, 1996. ISBN 0-531-11287-X. A brief biography intended for young students; what it lacks in depth is made up for in its frank and enlightened treatment of Alans sexuality. It does a decent job of explaining Alan"s work. An excellent stealth book to sneak into libraries. Gottfried appears to be a prolific writer of biographies. THE ALAN TURING HOMEPAGE http://www.turing.org.uk/turing/ ANDREW HODGES HOMEPAGE http://www.turing.org.uk/ AMAZON.COM http://www.amazon.com AMAZON.CO.UK http://www.amazon.co.uk A better source of Hodges work. Purchase/shipping to the U.S. not a problem with a credit card. THE INTERNET BOOKSHOP http://www.bookshop.co.uk Online, overseas ordering not a problem. BREAKING THE CODE http://www.turing.org.uk/turing/scrapbook/btc.html A play by Hugh Whitemore, is described here. THIS DOCUMENT,http://www.sr-ix.com/projects This document and these URLs can be found on my web page: All quotations not attributed taken from Hodges book "ALAN TURING: THE ENIGMA". "Universal machine" table from Hodges. Otherwise, entire contents copyright Tom Jennings, 1999.