back to article Turing papers could be saved after auction fail

The Turing papers - the almost complete collection of the great codebreaker's writings - failed to reach their reserve price at auction today. Bidders at Christie's pushed the price up to £240,000, but that was lower than the minimum price set by the seller. Google had offered $100,000 towards any purchase, and Bletchley Park's …

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Unhappy

Why is this in Bootnotes?

And am I the only person that sees Apple's logo as a sick joke at Turing's expense?

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Yes.

I think you probably are. I always saw the original Rainbow Apple logo as a tribute to the great mac.

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A tribute?

To one poor man's terrible solution to state persecution, intolerance and despair? I've never thought about the rainbow colours before but even that could be seen as a reference to his homesexuality.

I just dug out an interview with the logo designer, in which he denies this (so I guess I'm not the only one, after all). He did, however, describe the method of suicide as 'really cool'.

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Silver badge

If no-one wants them at that price at auction

Surely they are not worth the asking price? So why would the private sale need more money?

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Flame

RE: James

Do you even know who Alan Turing was?

He cracked the codes the Germans were using in the war to give us much needed information and was imprisoned after the war when they found out he was gay.

Without his help the war would have been much more difficult and yet the British Government locked him up as a thankyou.

If you don't think his worth the money then don't buy it, but we need to keep those papers in the UK, they are hugely important historically.

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not quite...

He wasn't imprisoned - he was bound over for a year on condition that he underwent hormonal treatment. Disgusting and horrible, of course, but he was never locked up.

It's true that he helped crack the German WW2 codes, but that's not why these papers are important. His pre-war work is absolutely fundamental to modern computing, dealing with what can and can't be done with computers.

Even if he'd never worked at Bletchley Park, he would still be one of the most important British thinkers - he was a mathematician so I'm not calling him a scientist - of the 20th century.

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FAIL

Re-read the comment you replied to...

...especially the heading.

He's not saying HE doesn't think they're worth it, but that no potential buyer thinks they're worth it. Else they'd have met the reserve at auction.

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RE:AC

I'm sure i heard recently during the cuts that the government purposely inflates the prices of things like this and buried treasures so that noone buys them and they stay in the country.

I believe there's a quango for that

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@AC

Thanks AC,

Thank God some people read the titles of these post. God preserve us from the rest of the commentators!

(Yes, I do know who Turing was, and I do believe these papers should reside at the museum at Bletchley Park)

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Silver badge

OMFG!!!!!!!11111

Well I didnt see it until you pointed it out.

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@Tigra 07

Woooosh!

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Silver badge

Not even remotely related...

But really wish this would be updated...http://geekz.co.uk/lovesraymond

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Jobs Horns

*clears throat*

What's the difference between an Apple I and an Enigma machine?

One was the product of an egomaniacal sociopath bent on world domination, its inner workings shrouded in obsessive secrecy, and each new model represented a grave threat to civilization.

The other was a fancy typewriter.

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Grenade

Re: RE: James

Do you know who he was?

The code work he did was important, yes, but of much more relevance to today's world, prior to WW2 he set out to provide definitive theoretical proof of whether or not it was possible to solve any mathematical problem by building a machine to do so.

The answer he came up with was that it wasn't (at least at the time) - but for all problems that could be solved by machine, rather than build a different machine for each problem the work could be done by a single design of machine applying a limited set of basic operations in a specified sequence determined for the particular problem.

The Lyons chain of tearooms in the UK heard about this concept and the rest, as they say, is history.

The reason he was locked up was because he was homosexual - not only was he locked up but he also under went chemical treatments to stop him committing this crime again.

He eventually committed suicide at a comparatively young age by eating an apple that had been dipped in a cyanide solution.

Given the impact Turing's work has had on virtually every person on this planet I'm surprised that the British government hasn't acquired these papers on behalf of the people and put them in a museum before now.

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Silver badge

What is for sale ?

"...surprised that the British government hasn't acquired these papers on behalf of the people..."

But what was realy for sale - it was a collection of the publications of the work, not an original manuscript or a unique item. If one was to go looking, I'd be willing to bet the exact same materials could be found in other collections and at a much reduce price.

Don't get me wrong - the British Government should do more to honour Turing. I'm just suggesting we should get in perspective what was actually for sale here, and is it an appropriate use of >£300,000 of government money.

The fact the publications were collected by Professor Max Newman adds more kudos and will have inflated the price also.

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But who is selling them

There is no mention of who actually owns them? Maybe that would give us a little comfort knowing it was not a large corporation who could actually afford the tax write off, Vodafone perhaps.

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I wondered that too

But an extensive search of the first 3 google results revealed nothing.

Anyone know?

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T J
WTF?

NATIONALIZE THEM

NOW. Why the Hell is the public paying for them??

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Stop

WTF?

Everyone's missing the real story here. Who is selling these papers and why? If they had a shred of decency they would have donated Turing's papers to a museum or university long ago and made sure they would always be available for anyone to study. It would be a different matter if it was Turing himself who was selling them because he needed the money to buy fags or more of His Steveness's (praise be upon him) eye candy.

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Happy

Refer you to the earlier El Reg Story

The lot includes 15 of his 18 published papers collected by Turing's friend, fellow Bletchley Park decoder Professor Max Newman.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/11/23/google_backs_turing_bid/

You're welcome

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@Jim Morrow

I'm not sure I'd agree with you.

*Personally*, I don't see why, if I owned something that other people thought was of historic/academic value, that should mean I'm under an obligation to give it away if I have the possibility of selling it.

Anyway, when it comes to academic papers, while an original might have sentimental value, surely the importance of an academic paper is judged by the number of times its information content is used, referred to and copied? A paper of real significance will create its own museum in the things which build on it.

If there was a collection of the first printing of every scientific paper by every genius in the last few centuries, and it went up in smoke, as long as we had other copies of the papers, would we actually have lost that much?

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Dead Vulture

Gah

If it were possible to donate and if this had been publicised then I for one would have given cash to support Bletchley Park's bid.

I hope the Reg ran a story earlier and I missed it when I was away otherwise I'm highly disappointed.

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PT

"Could be saved"?

Why, are they in some danger then? Will the disappointed owner now use the pages to light his cigars? The Turing papers are perfectly safe where they are until the present owner comes to terms with their true market value, which is clearly a bit less than their sentimental value.

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