Does anyone still use cash? Alan Turing’s British £ 50 banknote arrives • The Register
UK’s new £ 50 banknote has entered into circulation on the occasion of the 109th anniversary of the birth of its subject, the mathematician and computer scientist Alan Turing.
Originally announced two years ago and unveiled in March, the note is expected to be available at bank branches and ATMs in the coming days.
Its arrival completes the Bank of England’s range of polymer banknotes, and time is running out until September 30, 2022, when the previous paper versions of the £ 20 and £ 50 banknotes cease to be legal tender (although that it is expected that deposits use the old notes will still be accepted.)
As for the £ 50 note itself, Turing’s photo was taken in 1951 by the Elliott and Fry photography studio. An image of the Automatic Computing Engine (ACE) is also visible in the design, along with technical drawings of the Bomb, one of the tools used to crack Enigma’s encrypted messages during WWII.
A functional reconstruction of the Turing-Welchman bomb is on display at the National Museum of Computing, which features the new note alongside, along with a Snapcode that will allow for an augmented reality experience with the note.
Away from AR games and entertainment, a ticker showing Turing’s date of birth in binary flows over the note and math chart from his 1936 article “On calculable numbers, with an application to the Entscheidungsproblem” [PDF] is visible.
Turing’s 1949 quote “This is just a taste of what’s to come and only a shadow of what’s to be” is shown below his image. The signature on the note comes from the guestbook of the house of Max Newman.
National Physical Laboratory (NPL) CEO Dr Peter Thompson said: “Alan Turing’s time at the NPL and the development of the ACE pilot is an important part of the scientific history of the NPL. the initial design was developed in 1945 and approved by the NPL in 1946. The computer ran its first program in 1950, after Turing left the NPL for the University of Manchester.
Thompson then thanked the Bank of England for describing Turing and ACE on the note: “For any organization, scientific or otherwise, fostering a diverse and inclusive workforce creates an environment where innovation thrives and where everyone feels safe in their workplace. “
Turing’s appalling treatment himself, simply because he was gay and despite his amazing and celebrated wartime efforts, is well documented and he was found dead on June 8, 1954 from cyanide poisoning. Turing was persecuted by the state for his homosexuality and was convicted of gross indecency in 1952.
He was finally granted a posthumous pardon in 2013 following an apology from the British Prime Minister in 2009.
Speaking at Bletchley Park, Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey said: “Placing it on this new banknote is recognition of his contributions to our society and a celebration of his remarkable life.” ®