The design of the Bank of England’s new £50 note, featuring the computer pioneer and codebreaker Turing, has been revealed.
The banknote will enter circulation on 23 June. It will be the last of the Bank’s collection to switch from paper to polymer. In keeping with Alan Turing’s work, the set is it’s most secure yet.
Old paper £50 notes will still be accepted in shops for some time though.
Why is Alan Turing on the note?
The work of Turing, who was educated in Sherborne, Dorset, helped accelerate Allied efforts to read German Naval messages enciphered with the Enigma machine. His work is claimed to have been key to shortening Second World War and saving lives.
Less celebrated is that the pivotal role he played within the event of early computers, first at the National Physical Laboratory and later at the University of Manchester.
In 2013, he was given a posthumous royal pardon for his 1952 conviction for gross indecency. He died at the age of 41. An inquest recorded his death as suicide.
Andrew Bailey, the governor of the Bank of England, said: “He was variety one mathematician, developmental biologist, and a pioneer within the sector of computer science.
“He was also gay and was treated appallingly as a result. By placing him on our new polymer £50 banknote, we are celebrating his achievements, and therefore the values he symbolizes.”
What features are on the note?
Steam engine pioneers Watt and Matthew Boulton appear on this £50 note, issued in 2011.
The new note will feature:
- A photograph of Turing taken in 1951 by Elliott and Fry, and a part of the National Portrait Gallery’s collection
- A table and mathematical formulae from Turing’s 1936 paper “On Computable Numbers, with an application to the Entscheidungsproblem” – foundational for computer science
- The automated Computing Engine (ACE) Pilot Machine – the trial model of Turing’s design and one among the primary electronic stored-program digital computers
- Technical drawings for British Bombe, the machine specified by Turing and one among the first tools wont to break Enigma-enciphered messages
- A quote from Turing, given in an interview to the day’s newspaper on 11 June 1949: “This is merely a foretaste of what’s to return, and only the shadow of what’s going to be”
- His signature from the visitor’s book at Max Newman’s House in 1947 which is on display at Bletchley Park
- Ticker tape depicting Alan Turing’s birth date (23 June 1912) in code. The concept of a machine fed by binary tape featured in Turing’s 1936 paper