Friday, August 28, 2020

John Leech calls on big tech companies to save Bletchley Park

The former Liberal Democrat MP who led the campaign to secure a pardon for Alan Turing and other men convicted of historical gay sex offences has written to the Big Five technology corporations calling on them to help save the threatened Bletchley Park codebreaking museum.

John Leech, who was MP for Manchester Withingon between 2005 and 2015, told the i newspaper:

"The likes of Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, and Google would not exist without Turing’s work. For a very long time, he was completely forgotten, but you can’t overestimate how important Alan Turing was… the impact he’s had on modern-day computing has been enormous.

"It would be a very good gesture for [the tech giants] to contribute to ensure the legacies of Alan Turing and Bletchley Park, and hopefully preserve it for future generations.

"If Alan Turing had been born 40 or 50 years later, he would be one of these people at the top of one of these organisations. He never actually personally benefited from his genius, whereas these tech giants today have benefited enormously from his contributions.

"Over decades he hasn’t had the legacy that he deserves, and it’s only in recent times that that begins to be put right. It would be terrible if the Covid-19 crisis were to mean his legacy being forgotten again."

You can more about Bletchley Park on its website.


nigel hunter said...

Yes his contribution has allowed them to get where they are. It is/was sad that the Govnt after the war allowed the US to plough their efforts into computing whilst keeping Turing and UK efforts secret AND develop it at a snails pace.
Yes for them to save Bletchley would only cost them a small amount of pocket money. Good for Mr Leech to campaign.

Phil Beesley said...

Alan Turing's work on logic and the capacity of computer algorithms has particular relevance with regard to the A Level results debacle. There are limits to fitting missing data...

University of Manchester's work on mainframe computers up to the 1960s was world class (not the Johnson definition, of course) and Lyon's LEO systems created the first work flow computer processes for retail management. The UK was pretty good at big computing for many years.

UK failure was the inability to develop smaller systems, something like the DEC PDP which kicked off the USA hacker culture, followed ten years later by the first microprocessor systems.