A general guide to the Update
Alan Turing: The Enigma was published in the UK and the US in 1983. In 1992, when Vintage UK published a new British paperback edition, I had the opportunity to include a short updating Preface. This added some material and some new perspectives which had emerged in the 1980s. However, the main narrative still held up well, and it still does today. One good decision I made in writing the original book was to make very little reference to events after 1954. It was written bearing in mind that what is now the past was once the completely unknown future. This has helped it to last.
The 2000 American edition did not include an updating Preface. But I wrote a fresh Preface for the 2012 Centenary editions, both the UK and the US versions, reflecting on the much greater public awareness of Alan Turing's life and work. Even more material has gone into the Preface for the new 2014 editions. Nevertheless, a printed Preface is necessarily limited and cannot include the full wealth of additional detail and comment that the years since 1983 have made possible. Since 1995 I have been using this website as the natural way to give readers of the book an extra resource. My policy is now to extend this website Update section more systematically, with the idea that at some point in the future it can be incorporated into an e-book or other electronic enlargement of the original printed text.
Here is a brief summary of how my account of Alan Turing's life and work has been affected by developments subsequent to the original 1983 publication.
- Turing's papers are now available to all to see in the Turing Digital Archive.
- The Collected Works and other editions of Turing's work, especially Alan Turing: his Work and Impact, render the 1983 bibliographic references out of date. See the Bibliography on this site.
- Since 1996 virtually all the Second World War cryptographic material has been released from secrecy. So details and dates of Turing's codebreaking methods, including his original reports, are now available.
- My text emphasised Turing as both 'logical' and 'physical', and as bridging the two. This was taken further in my 1997 short book on Turing as a philosopher.
- There are many smaller points of annotation, addition and correction.
- But I would say that no really major episode, relationship, or body of writing has emerged to change the picture I drew in 1983. In particular, nothing has yet emerged to cast new light on Turing's secret post-war work for GCHQ, nor on the national security questions that must have been important in the 1952-54 period.