What was Alan Turing really like?

Vincent Dowd at the BBC:

ScreenHunter_709 Jun. 26 19.44When Alan Turing died of cyanide poisoning in June 1954 his death was not huge news. The story of how he and colleagues at Bletchley Park had cracked the German Enigma codes was still secret and the Turing name was not yet public property.

In a two-paragraph story reporting his death, the Times described how he had “helped to develop a mechanical brain which he said had solved in a few weeks a problem in higher mathematics that had been a puzzle since the 18th Century”. It also noted his work on the Ace “automatic computing machine”. A short obituary followed a few days later.

Turing had contributed to a couple of radio programmes on the BBC Third Programme (sadly now lost) but otherwise his wide-ranging work on artificial intelligence and morphology seemed the stuff of specialist journals.

His name emerged from the shadows in 1983 when Andrew Hodges published a well-received biography which inspired the play Breaking the Code. It played in London and on Broadway and was later adapted for TV. The public image of Turing as tortured gay genius was taking shape.

Yet long before the icon, the Greenbaums knew the man. The memories of Barbara and Maria Greenbaum (now Barbara Maher and Maria Summerscale) remain vivid.

More here.