What Country Was Responsible For Breaking The Enigma Code?

By Antonia Čirjak on February 20 2020 in Society

Spoiler alert! It was the United Kingdom, or more accurately, a British man named Alan Turing, the father of modern computer science as we know it today.
  • Turing's work is invaluable as a base for the advancements we have made today in the context of the modern computer science and AI.
  • The Enigma only had the 26 characters of the alphabet and the punctuations signs were switched out for different characters.
  • Alan Turing died in 1954 by taking his own life.

Spoiler alert! It was the United Kingdom, or more accurately, a British man named Alan Turing, the father of modern computer science as we know it today.

Working full-time at Bletchley Park in Buckinghamshire, Alan Turing had one main goal. That goal was to crack the enciphering machine that the Germans used to send secret messages during World War 2. That machine was called the Enigma, and Alan Turing played a significant role in cracking its code.

Who Was Alan Turing?

Alan Turing was a British polymath, born in London in 1912. He had extensive knowledge of mathematics, logic, cryptanalysis, and philosophy. His work also served as a foundation for the future fields of computer science and artificial intelligence.

As a young boy, Alan Turing showed signs of high intelligence, pursuing his interest in science and mathematics throughout his teenage years. After his graduation at Cambridge, he was recognized for his research in the field of probability, and eventually enrolled for a doctorate study in mathematical logic at Princeton University. One of the most critical events in his life was definitely his job at Bletchley Park in Buckinghamshire, where he did top-secret work on breaking nazi codes. 

The Enigma Vs. The Bombe

Enigma was the German machine used to send encrypted messages between their forces in World War 2. It only used the 26 alphabet characters with the punctuations being replaced by different character combinations. The security of the enigma transmissions was dependent on the list of key settings that were changed every day. Because of the Enigma, England could never be prepared for the German attacks. 

With the help of Gordon Welchman, his colleague, Alan Turing, made his own machine, called The Bombe machine. It was a device that mimicked the action of several Enigma machines together. The Bombe was built on a budget that equals around 4 million pounds in today's worth. It was essential in the cracking of the encrypted german messages that were intercepted during the second world war. It basically sped up the whole process of cracking the Enigma code by using multiple permutations, reducing the duration of the previous efforts of cracking the code from weeks to only hours. By the end of it all, The Bombe was successful in cracking 2.5 million German messages, providing the allied forces with much-needed information to turn the tides of the war.

He Died Because Of His Sexuality

It is no secret that Alan Turings' sexuality played a major role in his death. During those times, homosexuality was illegal in the United Kingdom, and Alan Turing was arrested for gross indecency in the year 1952. He had a choice between imprisonment and chemical castration, in which he opted for the latter. He had to endure chemical castration, and the controversy around his homosexuality made him suffer both physically and mentally. Those same events eventually led to his suicide in the year 1954. Even though his final days were surrounded by controversy and prejudice, his intellectual legacy outshined them all.

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