Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Crown To Alan Turning: Pardon

     Fat lot of good it does him, having been dead by his own hand (reputedly: a poisoned apple he made himself) for lo, these many years.  --Who's next in the make-it-didn't happen sweepstakes, Oscar Wilde?

     But quite aside from the talented-Brits-arrested-in-loos count, I note the United Kingdom has the distinct dishono(u)r of having had the world's first computer invented there two or three times -- and killed it on the vine every time.  Difference Engine?  Never built.  Colossus?  Taken apart for "security" reasons after the War and so classified you could get in trouble for admitting you'd worked on it.   I suppose it could be argued that the Raspberry Pi is their apology to the world.

     If they'd treated Newton the same way they treated Babbage and Turing, calculus wouldn't've gotten off the ground until right before World War Two.

2 comments:

quietasamouse said...

Babbage's Difference Engine wasn't built because Babbage & his partner, Joseph Clement, fell out over finances, despite recieving substantial private funding for the project. There is no evidence that Babbage was treated badly by the scientific or political communities of the time.

Note: Between 1989 (117 years after Babbage's death)& 1991, the Difference Engine (from the plans of 'Difference Engine No.2') was built using 19th. century manufacturing tolerances & performed it's first calculation succesfully in the London Science Museum.

wheelgun said...

Leibniz would just have gotten the credit for calculus.

Brits have a long history of snatching defeat out of the jaws of victory.

It is almost a miracle they didn't kill Turing off before he could help them win WWII.