Alan Turing’s Manchester

Speaker: Jonathan Swinton
Date: Thursday 20th February 2020
Time: 14:30

BCS, 25 Copthall Avenue, London, EC2R 7BP.


About the seminar

Many places legitimately claim to be where modern computing was created, but no claim is higher than that of the University of Manchester. This heritage is marked there by two notably separate blue plaques: one facing south for Alan Turing as a founder of computer science, and one facing north for Freddie Williams and Tom Kilburn as creators of the first electronic computer. Turing and Kilburn had adjacent offices in the building housing the Ferranti Mark I, and today Turing has a worldwide public perception as a martyred British genius, while his then-peer Kilburn is, outside the CCS, barely known. Although both Kilburn and Turing were Cambridge-trained mathematicians, Kilburn firmly identified himself as an engineer, and he had little time for Turing, in life or in memory. Jonathan Swinton will use research from his recent book Alan Turing’s Manchester to explore why. He’ll discuss how well Turing’s modern perception fits with the historical events of 1948-1954, and how the viewpoints of mathematicians and engineers continue to differ to this day.

About the speaker

Jonathan Swinton is a mathematical biologist and writer and blogs at www.manturing.net.

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