Security Encyclopedia

Alan Turing

Alan Turing was a renowned British multidisciplinary scientist considered the founding father of artificial intelligence (AI) and computer science. 

Some of Turing’s greatest achievements are in the field of cryptography. During World War II, he worked on that global conflict’s most significant signals intelligence (SIGINT) effort, leading a project to crack Enigma, an encryption device that gave the German military and Axis powers material advantage over the Allied forces. In doing so he and others working at the Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS), Bletchley Park, built the Bombe, a British decryption device that succeeded at Enigma decryption and turned the tide of the war. Turing’s efforts toward computer science include development of the Automatic Computing Engine (ACE), one of the first known programmable computers, and for co-developing the Manchester computers, which over 1947-77 were similar devices that helped usher in today’s modern computing. 

Turing’s accomplishments in cryptography in the service of the UK government were popularized in the 2014 film The Imitation Game starring Benedict Cumberbatch.


“Alan Turing created a test called The Imitation Game as a means to determine whether a machine was thinking, and from his white paper came an entirely new way of understanding whether machine intelligence is possible.”