The Coupland Building 1
The Coupland Building 1 is where the famous World War II codebreaker, mathematician and computer scientist Alan Turing worked while he was at Manchester.
Turing had become famous for his 1937 paper introducing a 'universal machine' – one that could do the work of all possible calculating devices. During World War II he was recruited to Bletchley Park, where he helped to decode German messages that had been encrypted by Enigma machines.
Late in 1948, Turing was brought to Manchester by Max Newman, the new Professor of Pure Mathematics, who had worked with Turing at Cambridge and Bletchley. Newman had won a Royal Society grant to develop a computer in Manchester, and Turing was to be Deputy Director of the Computing Machine Laboratory. However, when Turing arrived in Manchester, he found that the world's first electronic stored-program computer was already operating at the University, created by Freddie Williams, the new Professor of Electrical Engineering, and his assistant Tom Kilburn. Williams and Kilburn had worked together during the war, on the secret radar project at Malvern.
Turing helped with programming, and from 1951 he worked in the Coupland Building 1, which was a purpose-built annexe housing a new computing machine – the Ferranti Mark I which had been developed with the engineering firm Ferranti.
As his colleagues continued to develop the programming, Turing was free to focus on wider issues and on projects that could use the computer. The best known of his Manchester publications introduced the 'Turing test', a way to define whether machines could think.
Turing also worked on a computer model of a chemical reaction-diffusion process which might explain the emergence of patterns in biological organisms. His research student Bernard Richards applied reaction-diffusion equations to spherical forms. As Turing expected, they produced the symmetrical 'spines' seen in microscopic sea animals called radiolaria.
Turing committed suicide in 1954 as a result of repressive attitudes towards homosexuality. The work he shared with Manchester colleagues is now acclaimed across the world.