We can only see a short distance ahead, but we can see plenty there that needs to be done. – Alan Turing
1868 – Typewriter: Christopher Latham Sholes received a patent for an invention he called the “Type-Writer.”
…The first row was made of ivory and the second of ebony, the rest of the framework was wooden. It was in this form that Sholes, Glidden and Soule were granted patents for their invention on June 23, 1868 and July 14. The first document to be produced on a typewriter was a contract that Sholes had written, in his capacity as the Comptroller for the city of Milwaukee. Machines similar to Sholes’s had been previously used by the blind for embossing, but by Sholes’s time the inked ribbon had been invented, which made typewriting in its current form possible.
1889 – Verena Holmes, English mechanical engineer and inventor is born.
Verena Winifred Holmes was an English mechanical engineer and inventor, the first woman member elected to the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (1924), and a strong supporter of women in engineering. She was one of the founding members of the Women’s Engineering Society in 1919…
…She was employed by Research Engineers Ltd from 1932 to 1939, during which time she developed and patented many inventions, including the Holmes and Wingfield pneumo-thorax apparatus for treating patients with tuberculosis, a surgeon’s headlamp, a poppet valve for steam locomotives, and rotary valves for internal combustion engines. She held patents for 12 inventions for medical devices as well as engine components.
1912 – Alan Turing, English mathematician and computer scientist is born.
Alan Mathison Turing, OBE, FRS was a British pioneering computer scientist, mathematician, logician, cryptanalyst, philosopher, mathematical biologist, and marathon and ultra distance runner. He was highly influential in the development of computer science, providing a formalisation of the concepts of algorithm and computation with the Turing machine, which can be considered a model of a general purpose computer. Turing is widely considered to be the father of theoretical computer science and artificial intelligence.
During the Second World War, Turing worked for the Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS) at Bletchley Park, Britain’s codebreaking centre. For a time he led Hut 8, the section responsible for German naval cryptanalysis. He devised a number of techniques for breaking German ciphers, including improvements to the pre-war Polish bombe method, an electromechanical machine that could find settings for the Enigma machine. Turing played a pivotal role in cracking intercepted coded messages that enabled the Allies to defeat the Nazis in many crucial engagements, including the Battle of the Atlantic; it has been estimated that this work shortened the war in Europe by as many as two to four years.
After the war, he worked at the National Physical Laboratory, where he designed the ACE, among the first designs for a stored-program computer. In 1948 Turing joined Max Newman’s Computing Laboratory at Manchester University, where he helped develop the Manchester computers and became interested in mathematical biology. He wrote a paper on the chemical basis of morphogenesis, and predicted oscillating chemical reactions such as the Belousov–Zhabotinsky reaction, first observed in the 1960s.
Turing was prosecuted in 1952 for homosexual acts, when such behaviour was still a criminal act in the UK. He accepted treatment with oestrogen injections (chemical castration) as an alternative to prison. Turing died in 1954, 16 days before his 42nd birthday, from cyanide poisoning. An inquest determined his death a suicide, but it has been noted that the known evidence is equally consistent with accidental poisoning. In 2009, following an Internet campaign, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown made an official public apology on behalf of the British government for “the appalling way he was treated”. Queen Elizabeth II granted him a posthumous pardon in 2013.
1943 – Vint Cerf, American computer scientist is born.
Vinton Gray “Vint” Cerf is an American internet pioneer, who is recognized as one of “the fathers of the Internet”, sharing this title with American engineer Bob Kahn and Donald Davies. His contributions have been acknowledged and lauded, repeatedly, with honorary degrees and awards that include the National Medal of Technology, the Turing Award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Marconi Prize and membership in the National Academy of Engineering.
In the early days, Cerf was a manager for the United States’ Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) funding various groups to develop TCP/IP technology. When the Internet began to transition to a commercial opportunity during the late 1980s, Cerf moved to MCI where he was instrumental in the development of the first commercial email system (MCI Mail) connected to the Internet.
Cerf was instrumental in the funding and formation of ICANN from the start. He waited in the wings for a year before he stepped forward to join the ICANN Board, eventually becoming chairman. He was elected as the president of the Association for Computing Machinery in May 2012, and in August 2013 he joined the Council on CyberSecurity’s Board of Advisors.
Cerf is also known for his sartorial style, typically appearing in three-piece suit—a rarity in an industry known for its casual dress norms.