Germany’s top-secret World War II code was called “Enigma,” and the gay Englishman who played a key role in breaking that code — Alan Turing — was very much an enigma himself.
CBS News’ Anthony Mason reports on Turing’s life, which is chronicled in the new film, “The Imitation Game” (out next month). It stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Turing, the mathematics prodigy who would change the course of the Second World War.
Turing, widely considered to be the father of computer science and artificial intelligence, is thought to have brought an end to the war two years earlier, saving millions of lives.
In the years following the war, Turing was criminally prosecuted under Britain’s 1885 Criminal Law Amendment Act that criminalized homosexual activity and led to the convictions of over 49,000 British men, including Oscar Wilde.
Faced with the prospect of imprisonment, and perhaps with it the loss of the mathematics post he held at Manchester University, which gave him access to one of the world’s only computers, Turing accepted the alternative of “chemical castration” — a series of injections of female hormones that were supposed to suppress his sexual urges.
At age 41, he died of cyanide poisoning on June 7, 1954 in what was ruled a suicide.
CBS News reports on Turing and the film: