WWII codebreaker Alan Turing becomes first gay man on British pound

 WWII codebreaker Alan Turing becomes first gay man on British pound
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Alan Turing, who was a codebreaker during World War 2, is the first gay man to be featured on British currency, NBC News reported.

In a press release, the Bank of England said the new 50 pound note entered circulation for the first time on Wednesday.

The new note features a mathematical table and formula from Turing’s foundational 1936 paper and a drawing of the computing machine Turing first developed during WWII.

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“Our banknotes celebrate some of our country’s most important historical figures. That’s why I am delighted that Alan Turing features on the new polymer £50 note," Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey said in a statement.

"Having undertaken remarkable codebreaking work here at Bletchley Park during the Second World War, he went on to pioneer work on early computers, as well as making some ground-breaking discoveries in the field of developmental biology," he continued. "He was also gay and was treated appallingly as a result. Placing him on this new banknote is a recognition of his contributions to our society, and a celebration of his remarkable life.”

Turing joined the British’s wartime codebreaking operation at the beginning of the war and designed a war-time coding machine called the “Bombe," which the Bank of England noted was "one of the primary tools used to break Enigma-enciphered messages during WWII."

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The British Bombe processed up to 89,000 messages a day during the war, providing a great service to the Allied Forces, according to NBC News. 

Even though the Royal Empire honored him by naming him the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, Turing faced discrimination due to his sexuality. In 1952, he was arrested and prosecuted for having a relationship with another man. 

Turing pleaded guilty and agreed to chemical castration to avoid imprisonment. Two years later, Turing took his own life at the age of 41.

 

Queen Elizabeth II granted Turing a royal pardon in 2013.