Alan Turing was sneered at for not being a tough guy, a he-man with hair on his chest.
He whined, croaked, stuttered. He used an old necktie for a belt. He rarely slept and went without shaving for days. And he raced from one end of the city to the other all the while concocting complicated mathematical formulas in his mind.
Working for British intelligence, he helped shorten the Second World War by inventing a machine that cracked the impenetrable military codes used by Germany’s high command.
At that point he had already dreamed up a prototype for an electric computer and had laid out the theoretical foundations of today’s information systems. Later on, he led the team that built the first computer to operate with integrated programs. He played interminable chess games with it and asked it questions that drove it nuts. He insisted that it write him love letters. The machine responded by emitting messages that were rather incoherent.
But it was flesh-and-blood Manchester police who arrested him in 1952 for gross indecency.
At the trial, Turing pled guilty to being a homosexual.
To stay out of jail, he agreed to undergo medical treatment to cure him of the affliction. The bombardment of drugs left him impotent. He grew breasts. He stayed indoors, no longer went to the university. He heard whispers, felt stares drilling into his back.
He had the habit of eating an apple before going to bed.
One night, he injected the apple with cyanide.
stem: eduardo galeano
perspectief: a capsule history of the human race, in some 600 short entries, he travels from prehistory to the present, from the impressionistic to the brutally, precisely documented
titel: father of the computer
bron: mirrors, stories of almost everyone (2009, transl. mark fried)
mopw: meerstemmige encyclopedie / appel