Manuscript by Nazi code breaker Alan Turing sells for $1 million

Alan Turing’s notebook containing the foundations of mathematics and computer science sells at auction for $1,025,000 (USD).

NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES (APRIL 13, 2015) (REUTERS) – A 56-page handwritten notebook that belonged to World War Two Nazi code breaker and computer pioneer Alan Turing, played by actor Benedict Cumberbatch in the film “The Imitation Game,” sold for more than $1 million, Bonhams said on Monday (April 13).

Turing, a British mathematical genius, worked at the U.K. government’s war-time codebreaking center Bletchley Park. He led a team of cryptographers who cracked the wartime Enigma code, which the Germans had considered unbreakable. Their work is credited with hastening the end of the war and saving countless lives.

Cassandra Hatton, senior specialist in Bonham’s fine books and manuscripts department, said the result of the auction as a testament to Turing’s legacy.

The sale also reaffirms a growing interest in scientific material, the history of computers, space, exploration and early science, she added.

The notebook, which had never been seen in pubic, is considered the only existing, extensive manuscript by Turing. In the notebook, which dates back to 1942 and was left to his friend Robin Gandy, Turing worked on mathematical formulas and the basics of computer science, giving insights into the workings of his brilliant mind.

Gandy added his own notes between the pages of Turing’s musings and kept the notebook hidden until his death.

Turing, a homosexual, never received credit for his groundbreaking work during the war. He committed suicide in 1954 at the age of 41 while receiving hormone treatment. It was an alternative to imprisonment after he was charged with gross indecency in 1952 for having sex with a man. Homosexual sex was a crime at that time in Britain.

Sixty years after his death Turing received a rare, royal pardon by Queen Elizabeth for his conviction.

Cumberbatch received a best actor Academy Award nomination for his portrayal of Turing in the film, which won an Oscar for best adapted screenplay. The film is based on the book, “Alan Turing: The Enigma,” by Andrew Hodges.

“This notebook shines extra light on how, even when he was enmeshed in great world events, he remained committed to free-thinking work in pure mathematics,” Hodges said in a statement.