The new £50 note will feature an image of scientist Alan Turing, celebrated for his pioneering work with computers. The choice was made after the public sent in over 200,000 nominations, spanning almost 1,000 figures in the field of science, before a final decision was made by the, governor at the Bank of England.
Many people will have voted for him having seen the many films about the cracking of the Enigma Code during World War 2 – but his work on artificial intelligence started before the war – and his paper of 1936 On Computable Numbers outlines his idea of a Universal Machine which could tackle any mathematical problems.
When Time Magazine published their list of the 100 most important people of the 20th Century – they said of Turing:
The fact remains that everyone who taps at a keyboard, opening a spreadsheet or word processing program, is working on an incantation of a Turing machine.
It took many years following the war before the true involvement of Turing became known, but once people realised his contribution they have taken him to their heart – and BBC Icons of the 20th Century saw Alan Turing as the number 1 – even ahead of Einstein.
So if you are lucky enough to find a £50 note in your pocket (due for circulation end of 2021) take a minute to remember the man and his amazing work.
To learn more about Alan Turing visit Turing Trust