Can you remember what he invented?
If the ‘enigma machine’ immediately pops to mind you’re on the right tracks, although it wasn’t its invention but its decryption which he worked on.
A mathematician from Cambridge University, Turing’s key interest in cryptology lead him to being recruited by the British government during WWII. Posted at Bletchley Park, Turing worked at a top secret location – just like our Station M game set in Casa Loma – helping to decode encrypted enemy messages.
Using military terms such as ships, units, and weapons and other messaging such as names, greetings, and sign-offs, communications were cross-referenced to find repeating patterns. For example, the phrase “nothing to report” and “all clear” were easier to find than any original content in the message, so identifying terms like these were crucial to the process. Nonetheless, trying to cross-reference all the combination of characters manually would have been impractical to the degree of impossibility, let alone the fact that the ciphers changed daily. To combat this problem, Turing is widely accredited as having developed one of the first ever prototype CPUs which would later become the basis of computer science and the technology we all rely on today.
Although the word ‘computer’ was first recorded in 1613, during WWII, the ‘Turing machine’ was named literally that, and it wasn’t until the middle of the 20th century that the word got transferred to objects. However, his machine was very different to what might be recognized as a computer today, though some of the basic principles and components were at work, including a ‘tape’ containing cells for every possible character which served as data storage. As the tape was moved left or right a ‘head’ would read those characters and edit as needed, while a ‘state register’ recorded where in the process the machine was and a ‘table’ contained operational instructions.
So, are the puzzles in our escape games as difficult to crack as this? Well, you won’t need to invent a revolutionary computer, but they’ll certainly provide a challenge!