Origins of the Apple logo or: Why Alan Turing died

August 3, 2007 at 12:20 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments
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Alan TuringAnd before I turn to the job search again, I need to draw your attention to the heartrending story of the death of Alan Turing, the man who first described the logical workings of a computer. While I did of course know Turing, and once did some research on his work for my MA thesis, the circumstances of his death had hitherto completely escaped me. Yesterday my boyfriend told me all about it:-(

Alan Turing died after having eaten a cyanide-laced apple (a poisoned apple, like the one Snow White, which was allegedly the reason why Apple decided to make a half-eaten apple their logo.

Now why, you might wonder, did Turing decide to eat a poisoned apple? That was after he was removed from the cryptography research group, and forcibly injected with estrogen to reduce his libido, because he had admitted being gay in a dark era named the Western 1950s:

Turing was homosexual[3] in a period when homosexual acts were illegal in Britain and homosexuality was regarded as a mental illness. In 1952, Arnold Murray, a 19-year-old recent acquaintance of his,[22] helped an accomplice to break into Turing’s house, and Turing went to the police to report the crime. As a result of the police investigation, Turing acknowledged a sexual relationship with Murray, and they were charged with gross indecency under Section 11 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1885. Turing was unrepentant and was convicted. He was given the choice between imprisonment and probation, conditional on him undergoing hormonal treatment designed to reduce libido. In order to avoid going to jail, he accepted the oestrogen hormone injections, which lasted for a year, with side effects including gynecomastia (breast enlargement). His conviction led to a removal of his security clearance and prevented him from continuing consultancy for GCHQ on cryptographic matters.

On 8 June 1954, his cleaner found his lifeless body; the previous day, he had died of cyanide poisoning, apparently from a cyanide-laced apple he left half-eaten beside his bed. The apple itself was never tested for contamination with cyanide, and cyanide poisoning as a cause of death was established by a post-mortem. Most believe that his death was intentional, and the death was ruled a suicide. His mother, however, strenuously argued that the ingestion was accidental due to his careless storage of laboratory chemicals. Biographer Andrew Hodges suggests that Turing may have killed himself in this ambiguous way quite deliberately, to give his mother some plausible deniability.[23] Others suggest that Turing was reenacting a scene from “Snow White”, his favorite fairy tale.[24] Because Turing’s homosexuality would have been perceived as a security risk, the possibility of assassination has also been suggested.[25] His remains were cremated at Woking crematorium on 12 June 1954.
[Quoted from Wikipedia]

/*Sadness and unbearable anger comes over me


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  1. Thanks for the post Jana. I am a fan of Turing myself and I had no idea, he died such a mysterious death!!

    Why, Oh why doesnt world let people live the way they want to!!!!

  2. As Sartre said, and I find myself repeating like a mantra lately: the world is badly made.

  3. to Nova:
    Because the world is afraid of that it does not understand or finds different from itself, and as such feels the need to destroy or homoginize it.

    I have a lot of respect for Turing and his work, and was until an off-hand comment from a friend, unaware he died from a poisoned apple. I was also unaware of his sexuality or what the courts did to him.
    My respect has not diminished.

  4. I am currently working on a research paper centered around the lack of credit given to Turing regarding the development of automatic stored-program computing machines. One of my arguements is that Turing’s work has been filtered out of the history books because of his sexuality; can anyone help me substantiate this?

  5. I tend to agree with this sentiment, but am not sure either how one could substantiate it:-(

  6. I agree with this 100%. All you have to do is read the various accounts of his life on (ironically) the Internet. They often omit the fact that he invented the digital computer. Many people would rather we forgot that something so central to our lives was created by a gay man. But this is nothing new. Gays’ and lesbians’ contributions to human culture are more often than not erased. A lot of solid research indicates that half of Shakespeare’s sonnets were written to a man, but you won’t see that being taught.


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