|There is a Turing statue in Manchester, but frankly|
it's unrecognisable. You can do better, guys.
This being the case, we can expect a flood of books on Alan Turing as it was the 100th anniversary (wey-hey!) of his birth in June. Leaving aside the fact Turing would certainly have preferred a binary anniversary (2018 will be the 1000000th anniversary of his death), I'm currently reading the first of these books for review. I don't want to talk about that book itself here (it's Turing: Pioneer of the Information Age by Jack Copeland) as it will be reviewed on popularscience.co.uk very soon - suffice it to say it's shaping up well - but I would like to shamelessly steal what appears to be Jack Copeland's thesis.
This is that the remarkable things we remember Turing for are probably his lesser contributions to the world. Many know that Turing was one of the leading codebreakers dealing with the Enigma and Tunny machines at Bletchley Park during the Second World War. And we may well remember Turing's contributions to the idea of artificial intelligence, with the 'Turing test' that is supposed to show whether or not a computer can pass itself off as a human being. And the tragic end to his life, committing suicide after being handled terribly by the ungrateful authorities (who should have been treating him like a national hero) because he was a homosexual. But there is even more to this remarkable man who, in his biography, sometimes comes across a little like Sheldon in The Big Bang Theory.
Arguably the reason we should really remember Turing is that at the most fundamental level he invented the modern computer. Forget Babbage - well, no don't forget him, but cast him, as Copeland does as grandfather of the computer. It was Turing that dreamed up the real thing. In a sense it was just a throwaway initially. His theoretical universal computing machine was devised as a way of exploring an abstruse (though important) aspect of mathematics. But as Turing himself came to realise, this was much more. In effect, what Turing did was invent computer science. Pretty well everything else everyone else has done that is labelled 'computer science' is the engineering to put Turing's vision into practice. Turing's work was the 'theory of everything' of computing.
Companies like IBM, Apple, Microsoft and Google should be putting up statues in his honour all around the world faster than you can say 'serious profits.'