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The Early Computers of Konrad Zuse, 1935 to 1945

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000129372D
Original Publication Date: 1981-Jul-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Oct-05
Document File: 24 page(s) / 88K

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

PAUL E. CERUZZI: AUTHOR [+2]

Abstract

A central figure in the history of computing is the German pioneer Konrad Zuse; yet his work remains largely unknown outside his native country. Zuse made a number of fundamental discoveries in computing in the 1 930s and 1 940s, and his Z3 computer is acknowledged as the first functional program-controlled calculating machine in the world.

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THIS DOCUMENT IS AN APPROXIMATE REPRESENTATION OF THE ORIGINAL.

Copyright ©; 1981 by the American Federation of Information Processing Societies, Inc. Used with permission.

The Early Computers of Konrad Zuse, 1935 to 1945

PAUL E. CERUZZI

(Image Omitted: © 1981 by the American Federation of Information Processing Societies, Inc. Permission to copy without fee all or part of this material is granted provided that the copies are not made or distributed for direct commercial advantage, the AFIPS copyright notice and the title of the publication and its date appear, and notice is given that copying is by permission of the American Federation of Information Processing Societies, Inc. To copy otherwise, or to republish, requires specific permission. Author's Address: Department of History, Clemson University, Clemson, SC 29631. © 1981 AFIPS 0164-1239/81 /030241-262

The Early Computers of Konrad Zuse, 1935 to 1945

PAUL E. CERUZZI .00/00)

A central figure in the history of computing is the German pioneer Konrad Zuse; yet his work remains largely unknown outside his native country. Zuse made a number of fundamental discoveries in computing in the 1 930s and 1 940s, and his Z3 computer is acknowledged as the first functional program-controlled calculating machine in the world.

This paper examines in detail the early work of Zuse, beginning with his first thoughts on mechanizing calculation in the 1 930s and continuing through the completion of his general- purpose relay computer, the Z4, in 1945. The primary objective of this paper is to describe the machines Zuse constructed, but in addition it examines the social, technical, and political milieu in which he carried out his work. Keywords: Konrad Zuse, Helmut Schreyer, German computers, World War II CR Categories: 1.2, 2.10, 3.21, 5.21

Konrad Zuse was born on June 22, 1910, in Berlin Wilmersdorf. Shortly after his birth his family moved to Braunsberg, in East Prussia, where Zuse spent his childhood.

Zuse describes the school he attended in Braunsberg as traditional and conservative, with Latin considered the most important subject, but after a few years he attended a Reform (i.e., progressive) school in Hoyerswerda, northeast of Dresden. It is here he says his interest in engineering began to unfold (Zuse 1970). By 1927 he had enrolled at the Technical University (Technische Hochschule) in Berlin- Charlottenburg, and by 1935 he had completed a degree in civil engineering. He remained in Berlin from the time he finished his degree until the end of the war in 1945, and it was during this time that he constructed his first digital computers.

School records from Braunsberg and Hoyerswerda show that his work in mathematics was adequate but not outstanding (Zuse Archives). Of his engineering courses at the Technical University, he recalls that the need to perform repetitive and tedious calculations using only a slide rule dampened the spirit of his work. One specific problem requiring tedious ca...