Yesterday marked 60 years since Hero of The Bears; Alan Turing, killed himself. During his lifetime he was almost unknown in public circles and yet today he is famous as both a pioneer of computing and as someone who was torn apart by the attitude towards homosexuality in the 1950s. Even when he died in 1954 his death was not big news. The story of how he cracked the German Enigma Codes to help bring the war to an early end was still covered by the Official Secrets Act and average people had no idea what a computer was anyway. His death attracted a two paragraph story in The Times describing how he had “helped to develop a mechanical brain which he said had solved in a few weeks a problem in higher mathematics that had been a puzzle since the 18th Century”. It also noted his work on the ACE – the “Automatic Computing Machine”. A short obituary followed a few days later.
Back in June 2012, we made a case for Alan Turing, considered by many to be the Grandfather of modern computing and also an official Hero of The Bears, to receive a posthumous apology for his conviction for gross indecency. The conviction was not because he was fiddling with kids, like many of today’s celebrities, but because he had a loving relationship with a man – at the time homosexuality was illegal in England. Now the Queen has decided that the computer pioneer and code-breaker should be given a posthumous royal pardon – obviously after reading of the case in Jammy Toast.
From time to time the bears bestow an award on somebody who they regard as a hero. This award is not given lightly and there have to date only been twelve recipients. These heroes do not have to be famous or in the limelight, just someone the bears hold in the highest regard as a role model. Today, on the 100th anniversary of his birth, we would like to honour Alan Turing by naming him as an official Hero Of The Bears.