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Turing and the Test of Time

Celebrating Alan Turing’s fundamental contributions to the computer age

3 min read
Alan Turing
Image: Pictorial Press/Alamy

The centenary of Alan Turing’s birth is being greeted by an extraordinary response, not only in mathematical and scientific circles but in a much wider public arena. It marks the awareness that he was one of the 20th century’s seminal figures, whose brief life is better appreciated in the 21st century than in his own.

One reason for this fascination is that he was an unworldly person at the heart of an amazingly worldly achievement: the breaking of Nazi Germany’s most closely guarded military ciphers. Entirely unknown to the public in his own time, his tour de force emerged only in the 1970s. (Even in 2012, his wartime papers are still being declassified, and the full story remains unwritten.)

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The Unsung Inventor Who Chased the LED Rainbow

LEDs came only in shades of red—until George Craford expanded the palette

10 min read
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Man  with grey hair wearing dress shirt and tie standing in front of an LED stoplight and holding a panel with yellow and red LEDs glowing
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Walk through half a football field’s worth of low partitions, filing cabinets, and desks. Note the curved mirrors hanging from the ceiling, the better to view the maze of engineers, technicians, and support staff of the development laboratory. Shrug when you spot the plastic taped over a few of the mirrors to obstruct that view.

Go to the heart of this labyrinth and there find M. George Craford, R&D manager for the optoelectronics division of Hewlett-Packard Co., San Jose, Calif. Sitting in his shirtsleeves at an industrial beige metal desk piled with papers, amid dented bookcases, gym bag in the corner, he does not look like anybody’s definition of a star engineer.

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