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Rare Alan Turing Journal Shows His Genius at Work


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A page in Alan Turing's only known handwritten journal.

A rare journal handwritten by computing pioneer Alan Turing will go up for auction this spring.

Credit: James Martin/CNET

Two decades after its discovery, a rare handwritten journal belonging to computing pioneer Alan Turing will be auctioned off this spring in San Francisco.

The journal will be put up for auction by Bonhams in April and is expected to fetch "at least seven figures," a portion of which will be donated to charity.

Cassandra Hatton, a specialist in fine books, manuscripts, and space history with Bonhams, believes Turing wrote the 56-page journal between 1940 and 1942, a period when he was working for the British government to help crack Nazi codes. Hatton says the journal shows Turing trying to find and correct mistakes in mathematical notation. "He's looking at how his predecessors are looking at mathematical notations...he's trying to see where they went wrong so he can make it right."

The journal contains Turing's musings on mathematical theory and notation, as well as a dream journal written by Robin Gandy, a colleague of Turing's who was entrusted with his papers after Turing's death in 1954. The journal was locked away by Gandy and only discovered after his death in 1995.

Hatton believes the journal is likely the only such handwritten manuscript Turing left behind, as he preferred to use a typewriter.

From CNet
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