The Man Who Changed History Twice in a Single Moment

Meet Alan Turing

Niklas Göke
Personal Growth
Published in
4 min readMar 29, 2017

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The man who changed history twice in a single day.

The first time I heard Alan Turing’s name was in a computer science class where we studied different kinds of basic machines and how they work. One of them was called a Turing machine. Alan invented it.

In modern academia, the focus lies on the theoretical model behind the machine, but this is what his implementation looked like:

The Bombe.

It looks big and clunky and mysterious, but on the inside, you can imagine it a bit like this:

The idea of a Turing machine.

A Turing machine really only does a few things:

  • It moves a tape back and forward. The tape has symbols on it, each written down in a single cell.
  • The machine reads these symbols, one at a time.
  • Then, it decides what outputs to generate based on the inputs it receives.
  • Finally, it writes the output on the tape and moves on to the next cell.

Despite its seeming simplicity, the Turing machine changed the course of history unlike any other invention ever made. The moment Alan Turing got his theoretical model to work inside a real-world machine is one of the greatest moments in the history of mankind.

Here’s why.

The Device Behind the Glass

In the summer of 2016, I visited a spies and secret agents exhibition with my Dad. There were a ton of cool things to see, like tranquilizer pens, rigged phones, and agent files. But when I saw this one, little machine, sitting behind a window, I stopped dead in my tracks.

Photos weren’t allowed, but this is what it looked like:

Looks like a…typewriter?

The machine is called Enigma. The word is Greek and means ‘mysterious.’ It’s a coding…

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Niklas Göke
Personal Growth

I write for dreamers, doers, and unbroken optimists. Read my daily blog here: https://nik.art/