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Alan Turing's Notebook Could Fetch $1 Million at Auction

/ Source: Reuters
British mathematician Alan Turing at the school in Dorset, southwest England, aged 16 in 1928.
British mathematician Alan Turing at the school in Dorset, southwest England, aged 16 in 1928. SHERBORNE SCHOOL / AFP - Getty Images file

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A notebook about mathematics and computer science written by British code breaker Alan Turing will be sold at auction, Bonhams auction house said Wednesday. The 56-page manuscript is expected to fetch at least seven figures, with a portion of the proceeds going to charity, when it goes up for sale on April 13 in New York.

Turing was a brilliant mathematician and a pioneer in computer science who hastened the end of World War II by cracking Nazi Germany's wartime communications code. In the notebook, which has never been seen in public and dates from 1942, Turing works on the foundations of computer science and mathematics. "This manuscript dates from the time when Turing was engaged in the crucial task of breaking the Enigma Code," said Cassandra Hatton, senior specialist in fine books and manuscripts at Bonhams.

Turing never received credit for his work during World War II and committed suicide in 1954 while receiving hormone treatment after being charged with homosexuality, which was then a crime. He was pardoned almost 60 years later. He left the notebook to his friend Robin Gandy, who inscribed his own musings between the pages of Turing's notes. Gandy kept the notebook hidden until his death in 1995.

Turing's life is the focus of "The Imitation Game," a movie that is a best-picture Oscar nominee. Benedict Cumberbatch's portrayal of Turing is up for a best-actor Oscar as well. "The thought of being able to hold a manuscript that was written by him is thrilling," Cumberbatch said in a statement.

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