Alan Turing named greatest icon of the 20th century by BBC’s Icons

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Alan Turing prevailed in Tuesday’s (February 5) final of BBC Two Icons series, winning a public vote that saw him go up against Dr Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Ernest Shackleton, David Bowie, Muhammad Ali and Pablo Picasso.?

Alan Turing was persecuted for being gay

During World War II, Turing worked at Bletchley Park to crack the German Enigma codes, which is widely believed to have led to the war ending earlier than expected. Turing, often hailed as the grandfather of modern computing, was convicted of ‘gross indecency’ in 1952 after having sex with a man, and was chemically castrated, barred from working for GCHQ, and driven to suicide.

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Rejected and persecuted in his lifetime, Turing is now frequently cited as one of the most-celebrated heroes in British history, and was granted a posthumous pardon by Queen Elizabeth in 2013 in recognition of his work.

The pardon would later be extended to all men with historical gay sex convictions.TV presenter Chris Packham gave a passionate speech about the work of Turing during the BBC Icons show.. He said: “It’s so difficult to say, who’s better, who’s best? But under the conditions, Turing absolutely sparkles.“Faced with global catastrophe, he built a computer to turn cipher into song and mysteries into music. The Nazi Enigma machines were not match for his cunning"

 

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