Put Alan Turing on the £10 note!

Peter Flint sez, "Alan Turing, computer pioneer and geek hero, is generally credited with helping, via his work at the top-secret Bletchley Park code-breaking centre, to shorten World War 2 by anything up to two years. He tragicaly took his own life after his (then-illegal) homosexuality came to light. One way to commemorate his work and to make his legacy more widely understood waould be to include his picture on the next £10 note. Sign the petition and help this to happen!" The richest person in Britain would be Turing-complete.


  1. I’m assuming the title of the article is a typo, as you know fully well Cory that there is no £ note :)

    Pedantry aside it’s a great idea, the guy deserves everything we can throw at him after all that he did for the country and after how the country treated him.

  2. This would only be a choice for geeks. Many people will not even have heard of him. The point is not to use currency to educate or to atone for the sins of the British state but to depict something which people feel is essentially British and representative of them.

    1. Plus I dread the cultural fallout of putting an openly gay man on a piece of currency called a “pound.”

    2. There’s a long tradition of using people more-or-less famous for their contributions to science and understanding. Turing was both an important man of his field and an active and important part of the war effort, so even if a number of people haven’t heard of him he seems like a perfectly plausible candidate.

      Besides: In the long term, putting the guy they named Turing-completeness for on a bank note seems almost as natural as putting Watt or Faraday on one. ;)

    3. Most people haven’t heard of Elizabeth Fry (prison reformer on the £5 note). Not sure if more people have heard of Turing or Adam Smith (economist on the £20), though obviously putting an economist on the currency makes some sense. The only note in circulation with a true household name on it is the outgoing £10 with Darwin.

      1. Meanwhile, in Canada, we have a maple leaf, beaver, sailing ship, moose, loon, and polar bear on our coins, in ascending order of value. 18th century naval transport and animals, that’s us.

        I’d wager that I couldn’t find anyone in town, other than high school students who recently finished or are in social studies classes, who could tell me why Sir Wilfrid Laurier, who served as Prime Minister from 1896-1911, is on the Canadian $5 note, without resorting to the Internet for help.

        1. I was thinking that we do not need people on our notes at all. Stonehenge for England and let the Northern Irish, Welsh and Scots choose something similar would be my suggestion. And get rid of the Queen. (Don’t you now have beaver issues in Canada? Has anyone suggested changing the coinage?)

          1. I actually typed a response to your original comment that basically said “And that’s why every Canadian coin has HM Elizabeth II on it, right?” but in a slightly more light-hearted and playful way. Because, while the Queen is the head of state of Canada, she has little, if any, presence in the daily lives of most Canadians, unless someone in the Royal Family is visiting, getting married, dying, or more than one of the above at once. And then there are the tabloids that pick up all the paprazzi stories of the royals off the UK tabloids.

            I closed the tab instead because I felt I’d just be derailing the conversation pointlessly, and it wasn’t actually that clever or witty after all. lol.

            The Canadian Journey series of bank note designs is actually pretty good, in my opinion, because it does cover a range of what could be considered Canadian cultural touchstones, but the 1978 second issue series has a special place in my heart, because that was the only circulating set when I was growing up (until the Birds of Canada set was released).

  3. The tragedy of his death isn’t simply that his homosexuality came to light. How it came to light–he reported being robbed by a man he’d been sleeping with and was arrested for “gross indecency”–makes it even more tragic.

    Needless to say I’d love to have a £10 Alan Turing note. I’d probably put it in a frame with my £1 Dickens coin, even though the only connection between them is that they’re both British currency.

    1. I guess it would be ham-fisted and a little too guilt-tripping to include in Cory’s writeup that Turing was chemically castrated by the state (instead of having jail time) on top of it all.

  4. I’m into scientists on currency, BUT: an oppressive and homophobic state apparatus is what killed Turing. Do you think he would want to be on the currency of that state? 

Comments are closed.