WWII Codebreaker's Notebook Sells for $1M

Turing notes show steps toward modern computing
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 14, 2015 3:55 AM CDT
WWII Codebreaker's Notebook Sells for $1M
A handwritten notebook by Alan Turing in the Oscar-nominated "The Imitation Game" is shown in a special preview at Bonhams.   (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

A notebook that sheds light on how British mathematician Alan Turing helped invent modern computing—and win World War II—was sold for just over $1 million at an auction in New York yesterday. The 56-page handwritten notebook dates from 1942, when Turing was helping crack Nazi Germany's Enigma code and turn the tide of the war, reports Reuters. Bonhams auction house, which sold an Enigma machine for $269,000 at the same auction, says a portion of the proceeds will go to charity and adds that the sale is a "wonderful result and a fitting testament to Alan Turing's impact and legacy," the Telegraph reports.

The auction house says Turing's notes show how he was "working on logic and the foundations of mathematics with the aim of creating a universal language for a universal computing machine." Turing, who reportedly committed suicide in 1954, left the notebook to friend and fellow mathematician Robin Gandy, who used the blank pages for a dream journal and some deeply personal messages, the Financial Times reports. "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," wrote Gandy, who died in 1995. (In 2013, Queen Elizabeth II pardoned Turing for a 1952 homosexuality conviction.)

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