Often quoted as the father of the modern computing age for inventing a computer that could crack the Enigma code...... If you have heard this before and repeated it while playing guest on Stephen Frys panel show QI you would have set off the alarms for a common misconception!
Mr Turing was one of the pioneers of modern computing, along with such people as Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace. Yet he did not invent a computer to crack the Enigma devices of the second world war. That honour goes to a little known post office clerk Tommy Flowers who almost went bankrupt using his own funds to design and build the Colossus computer (which indecently you can see a working replica of at Bletchley Park, and what a sight it is to behold).
Turing became famous for his work in the fundamentals of computing, a mathematician by trade, during the war he found himself working with some of his former classmates and professors on 'project ultra' working feverishly to crack the German military codes of which there were not just one type (e.g. The German high command did not use the Enigma device, they used a Lorenz machine and cipher) Here had worked upon the concept of what became to be named a 'Turing machine' in 1936 just prior to the outbreak of war which proved the foundation of logic for Tommy Flowers and his colossus machine (use to crack the Lorenz not the Enigma codes)
To Quote Wikipedia
A Turing machine is a device that manipulates symbols on a strip of tape according to a table of rules. Despite its simplicity, a Turing machine can be adapted to simulate the logic of any computer algorithm, and is particularly useful in explaining the functions of a CPU inside a computer.
The "Turing" machine was described by Alan Turing in 1936, who called it an "a(utomatic)-machine". The Turing machine is not intended as a practical computing technology, but rather as a hypothetical device representing a computing machine. Turing machines help computer scientists understand the limits of mechanical computation.
Google being google have bestowed post humosly on Turing the great honour of being the subject of a Google Doodle. Top tip: Click im feeling lucky without anything in the search box to see them all.
This is a great example of the Turing machine, if you are not a holder of a computer science degree it may look a little confusing as to what it actually does or why it does it.
Quite simply, you are spelling out 'Google' in Binary. Most text that you will see on you computer will relate to the ASCII model, which states that every character on your keyboard relates to a binary number.
The Turing machine simplifies all calculations no matter how complex into simple binary equations that a computer can cope with. What you are doing with the Google doodle is using the Turing machine changing up the logic rules buy clicking the button to produce the result in the top right corner which equates to the ASCII code for that letter.
I love Google for things like this, it seems to speak out that making vast amounts of money is just a by product to them and the staff really are all about play, its just that play for them seems to equate to amazing things that revolutionise the way we think, do and act on a daily basis.
Then some people take it one step beyond and build a Turing machine in his honour out of Lego :)