‘Imitation Game’ code breaker Alan Turing’s notebook fetches over $1M at auction

Alan Turing

Alan Turing

A page from the notebook of British mathematician and pioneer in computer science Alan Turing, the World War II code-breaking genius, is displayed in front of his portrait during an auction preview in Hong Kong. The 56-page manuscript, containing Turing's complex mathematical and computer science notations, captured $1 million at auction on Monday, April 13. Kin Cheung.AP

A page from the notebook of British mathematician and pioneer in computer science Alan Turing, the World War II code-breaking genius, is displayed in front of his portrait during an auction preview in Hong Kong. The 56-page manuscript, containing Turing’s complex mathematical and computer science notations, captured $1 million at auction on Monday, April 13.

NEW YORK — A handwritten notebook by British World War II code-breaking genius Alan Turing, who was the subject of the 2014 Oscar-winning film “The Imitation Game,” brought more than $1 million at auction in New York on Monday.

The 56-page manuscript was written at the time the mathematician and computer science pioneer was working to break the seemingly unbreakable Enigma codes used by the Germans throughout the war. It contains Turing’s complex mathematical and computer science notations, and is believed to be the only extensive Turing manuscript known to exist, according to Bonhams, the auction house.

The sale price was $1,025,000.

“The Imitation Game,” starring Benedict Cumberbatch in the role of Turing, won Best Adapted Screenplay at this year’s Academy Awards.

Turing’s notebook dates from 1942, when he and his team of cryptanalysts were at Britain‘s World War II code and cypher school Bletchley Park. In one entry, Turing writes about a complex calculus notation.

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“The Leibniz notation I find extremely difficult to understand in spite of it having been the one I understood the best once! It certainly implies that some relation between x and y has been laid down eg, y=x2+3x.”

Turing was prosecuted for being gay at a time when it was illegal in Britain. He was convicted of indecency in 1952 and agreed to undergo hormone treatment as an alternative to imprisonment to “cure” his homosexuality.

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