Turing’s notebook goes for $1m
ANOTEBOOK belonging to Manchester’s Second World War code-breaking genius Alan Turing has been sold for more than one million dollars.
Bonhams auctioned the handwritten 56-page manuscript – the only extensive Turing manuscript thought to exist.
Part of the proceeds – around £685,000 – will be donated to charity.
Auctioneers Bonhams said the seller wished to remain anonymous.
The notebook was written at the time the mathematician and computer science pioneer was working to break the seemingly unbreakable Enigma codes used by the Germans throughout the war.
It contains Turing’s complex mathematical and computer science notations.
Turing’s life was recently turned into the film The Imitation Game, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Turing, which won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay.
The sale also includes a working German Enigma enciphering machine. The three-rotor device, manufactured for the German military in July 1944, is estimated to sell for 140,000 to 180,000 dollars (£95,900-£123,000).
Turing was prosecuted for being gay at a time when it was illegal in Britain.
He was convicted of indecency in 1952 and agreed to undergo hormone treatment as an alternative to imprisonment to “cure” his homosexuality.
He died in 1954 of cyanide poisoning, which was ruled a suicide, although his family and friends believed it might have been accidental.
Last month, Manchester’s gay community welcomed Labour’s pledge to offer posthumous pardons for gay men convicted under historic indecency laws. The law will be known as Turing’s Law.
The notebook was among the papers he left in his will to friend and fellow mathematician Robin Gandy.
Mr Gandy gave the papers to The Archive Centre at King’s College in Cambridge in 1977.
But he kept the note- book, using its blank pages for writing down his dreams at the request of his psychiatrist.
Bonham describes Mr Gandy’s entries as highly personal; the notebook remained in his possession until he died in 1995.
At the beginning of his journal, Mr Gandy writes: “It seems a suitable disguise to write in between these notes of Alan’s on notation, but possibly a little sinister; a dead father figure, some of whose thoughts I most completely inherited.”