Alan Turing, the man who played a vital war-time role in cracking the German Enigma Code, and who lived and went to school in Hastings, Sussex, has been named as the most “iconic” global figure of the 20th century, according to BBC2 viewers.
It has been estimated that his code breaking work helped to shorten World War 2 by more than two years and saved over 14 million lives.
Alan Turing was in contention with finalists Nelson Mandela, Ernest Shackleton, David Bowie, Dr Martin Luther King Jr, Muhammad Ali and Pablo Picasso for the honour.
During Turing’s childhood years his parent travelled between Hastings and India, leaving him to stay with a retired Army couple at Baston Lodge, Upper Maze Hill, St Leonards, which is now marked with a Blue Plaque.
Turing’s parents enrolled him at St Michael’s, a day school at 20 Charles Road, St Leonards.
The result was revealed live in London this week by finale hosts Claudia Winkleman and Nick Robinson.
Accepting the award, Inagh Payne, Alan Turing’s niece, said: “On behalf of the Turing family I’d like to thank you so much for voting for my uncle, it’s such an honour. I’ve got such fond memories of my uncle, when he used to come and visit my family and all the things we used to do together, thank you so much again it’s wonderful.”
Turing was an English mathematician, computer scientist, logician, cryptanalyst, philosopher and theoretical biologist, who is widely considered to be the father of theoretical computer science and artificial intelligence.
During the Second World War, Turing worked for the Government Code and Cypher School at Bletchley Park, Britain’s codebreaking centre that produced Ultra intelligence. For a time he led Hut 8, the section that was responsible for German naval cryptanalysis. Here he devised a number of techniques for speeding the breaking of German ciphers.
Turing played a pivotal role in cracking intercepted coded messages that enabled the Allies to defeat the Nazis in many crucial engagements, including the Battle of the Atlantic, and in so doing helped win the war.