Famed computer scientist Alan Turing inspires the design of new £50 note

Marking the arrival of the newest banknote, the Bank of England Museum announces an online exhibition exploring the life and career of the prominent figure that inspired the design.

24 June 2021
Reading Time
2 minute read


Marking the arrival of the new £50 bank note is an exhibition from Bank of England Museum, hosted online at the free digital arts and culture platform Smartify, it honours the key figure that inspired the design: Alan Turing.

The famed computer scientist is known for developing the idea for the Universal Turing Machine, the basis for the first ever computer in 1936. He also developed a test for artificial intelligence in 1950, along with various other major contributions to mathematics, cryptanalysis, computer science and AI. His life and career is explored in the design for the new £50 note, that of which is presented in form of a multimedia tour on Smartify, tracing the creation of the note from the concept to the artwork, to the final polymer banknote.

The design includes a photographic portrait of Turing that was taken in 1951, alongside a bunch of numbers, letters, dots, ultraviolet figures, symbols, foil patches and windows. It also includes Turing’s mathematical forum recognised for the foundation of computer science, the ACE Pilot Machine – i.e. the first electronic stored-program computer – as well as the Bombe machine, one of the tools used to break Enigma-coded messages during WWII, plus a line of ticker tape with Binary Code that denotes Turning’s birthdate.

As part of the digital exhibition, Bank of England’s banknote designer Debbie Marriott has created an audio commentary that reveals the intricate designs of Turing’s life and achievements. Specific highlights are included on the design of the note which also double up as security features. Debbie says in an announcement: “Banknote design is a unique art form and there is plenty packed into this valuable piece of polymer. The banknote is a kind of ‘business card’ of the nation, which must be easily recognisable, easy to manufacture in millions but extremely hard for counterfeiters to reproduce.”

The new £50 note launched yesterday and the multimedia tour and exhibition can be viewed online at Smartify. More information about the note can be found on Bank of England’s website.

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Copyright © Bank of England, 2021

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About the Author

Ayla Angelos

Ayla was an editorial assistant back in June 2017 and has continued to work with us on a freelance basis. She has spent the last seven years as a journalist, and covers a range of topics including photography, art and graphic design. Feel free to contact Ayla with any stories or new creative projects.

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