Person: Zuse, Konrad
Konrad Zuse was a German computer pioneer who invented the world's first programmable computer: the Z3.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- It was these studies in engineering which led Zuse to become interested in developing a mechanical device for calculating around 1934.
- After graduating Zuse joined the Henschel Aircraft Company where he worked on stress analysis.
- His work again involved a great deal of calculation and so, to help him perform these calculations, Zuse built his Z1 computer in his parents living room.
- Zuse completed the machine in 1938.
- The main reason why Zuse succeeded in building his mechanical computer where Babbage had failed, was the fact that Zuse's Z1 was a binary machine with two position switches to represent 0 and 1.
- However, to say that Zuse succeeded with the Z1 is a bit of an exaggeration, for the machine did not work very well.
- Zuse's plans to develop a bigger and better computer the Z2 involved keeping the same memory system but replacing the mechanical arithmetic unit by electromechanical relays.
- He then progressed to build the Z3 which was the first computer which Zuse built to be used rather than to test out his ideas.
- However when Zuse proposed a computer based on electronic valves, the proposal was rejected on the grounds that the Germans were so close to winning the War that further research effort was not necessary.
- Some of Zuse's computers were destroyed in bombing raids near the end of the war although the Z3 was reconstructed in 1960 for display in a museum in Munich.
- Zuse began work on his Z4 computer in 1942, and it was almost complete when, due to continued air raids, it was moved from Berlin to Göttingen.
- Zuse designed several computers other than those of his Z series.
- The L1 computer which Zuse designed was not for solving arithmetical problems, but rather it was designed to solve logical problems.
- Zuse set up his own computing company in 1950 and it was taken over by the Siemens electronics firm in 1967.
- Zuse continued to undertake research on computers and acted as a consultant to Siemens after the firm took over complete control of Zuse's computer company in 1969.
- As well as his hardware developments Zuse was also interested in software and he developed the first algorithmic programming language known as "Plankalkül" in 1945.
Born 22 June 1910, Berlin-Wilmersdorf, Germany. Died 18 December 1995, Hünfeld (near Fulda), Germany.
View full biography at MacTutor
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Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive