A gay computer pioneer whose skills helped the Allies decrypt Nazi codes during World War II will be celebrated on a postage stamp in the U.K.
Alan Turing, who worked at the U.K.’s main decryption establishment during the war, invented the Turing machine, which helped decipher German messages intercepted by the Allies. Despite his considerable contribution to the war effort, he was prosecuted by the British government in 1952 for being gay and forced to endure a chemical castration. Two years later, at age 41, he committed suicide.
In 2009, Turing was granted an apology by U.K. prime minister Gordon Brown after more than 30,000 people signed a petition on the prime minister’s website urging the government to “recognize the tragic consequences of prejudice that ended this man’s life and career.”
“While Turing was dealt with under the law of the time,” Brown wrote in response, “and we can’t put the clock back, his treatment was of course utterly unfair, and I am pleased to have the chance to say how deeply sorry I and we all are for what happened to him. ... It is no exaggeration to say that, without his outstanding contribution, the history of WWII could well have been very different.”
The stamp featuring Turing will be part of the “Britons of Distinction” series.
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