If you’re not aware of Alan Turing, you’re almost certainly reading this on a device that wouldn’t exist without him. He’s well-known as the father of computer science, and helped create the first computer systems, including the Enigma machine that helped defeat the Nazis in World War Two. Now the Bank of England has announced it will be honoring him by making him the face of the new £50 note. The Alan Turing banknote will go into circulation by the end of 2021.
As the BBC reports, the new £50 note will the last UK banknote to switch from paper to the more secure polymer when it enters circulation two years from now. It’s the highest value banknote in the UK, but is also the least used note. However, the BBC says that there are still 344 million £50 notes in circulation, with a combined value of £17.2 billion.
Turing was chosen to be honored on the new over names such as Stephen Hawking, Rosalind Franklin, Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage. Bank of England governor Mark Carney explained, “Alan Turing was an outstanding mathematician whose work has had an enormous impact on how we live today. Alan Turing’s contributions were far-ranging and path breaking.”
Turing was a mathematician and computer scientist who, aside from his famous work creating the Enigma code-breaking machine, also created the Turing machine, which is one of the earliest computers from 1936. Aside from his work on computers, Turing’s life was also known as being adapted in the movie The Imitation Game, where he was played by Benedict Cumberbatch. You also may have heard of the Turing Test to calculate artificial intelligence, which is of course named after him. He was convicted in 1952 for being in a homosexual relationship, which was illegal in the UK at the time, and died two years later in what is believed to be suicide. His conviction was overturned in 2013, and the British government apologized for how he was treated.